Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, we heard a lot about a phenomenon called "An Identity Crisis." It was something one had (or perhaps aspired to have?). More often it was something referred to as in "She's having an . . . ." It mystified me. How could someone not know who she was?
About the same time we'd hear people talking about "finding myself." Again, "Amazing Grace" notwithstanding, I never was really lost (other than that time on Ashbourne Road when I thought I would never see my family again).
Presently I'm active in the Lutheran Church and employed at a Quaker School. In both of these realms, I'm sometimes asked to participate in "exercises" of introspection. We'll be asked things like which of these markers really matter to us about ourselves: Gender, Age, Sexuality, Race, Class. We'll reflect for a bit (sometimes an interminable period) and then we'll "share."
"As a gay man," someone will begin. And another will respond, "Well, as a Latina woman," and I sit there mute.
As a late-middle-aged straight white female, I never think about those things! I guess that if I spent enough of that introspection time pondering these markers instead of admiring the pattern on the rug or enjoying the designs the leaves are making as the breeze goes through them, I'd become aware that they impact me far more than I think.
But here's how I think of myself. And here are the markers that matter and shape me: Wife. Mother. Sister. Friend. Listener. Quilter. Lutheran/Quaker. And, praise God, Grandmother.