I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently. When I say recently, I mean for the last year.
It was probably about this time last year that I started thinking seriously about whether or not to change my name and magically morph into Mrs S. I’m sure that it’s a small personal crisis that all brides-to-be go through. I’d spent 25 years being Miss H. I liked being Miss H. Was I prepared to give that up?
Ultimately yes (though the DVLA might tell you otherwise – I MUST remember to update my driving license). It meant a lot to David that I take his name, and when I thought about it, marriage to me was about unity and a key part of that was and is sharing a name.
So in February this year after much agonising and deliberation I did in fact become Mrs S. I’ve spent the months since getting used to not being Miss H, updating my details with various services and companies. I’ve started a new job. The people there have never known me as Miss H, which feels a bit odd.
Then it occurred to me. My name, especially my surname is really a very small part of my identity. More of a label, or a reference point. It isn’t what makes me me. My identity – what defines me – is my personality. My traits. What I do. What I don’t do. The things I like and the things I don’t like. And that really hasn’t changed at all. Has it?
Well yes. It has. But I now realise that it’s been changing for years and I hadn’t even noticed! Sneaky identity. This revelation came to me when I was doing some internet window shopping and came across this cheeseboard…
Available from Music Room Direct at Not On The High Street.com
I love this cheeseboard! I want to buy this cheeseboard. Well actually, I want someone to buy it for me as I don’t have £54 to spend on a cheeseboard. Anyway, I digress.
I turned the laptop round to David and the conversation went roughly as follows:
Me: I want this cheeseboard. It’s the most amazing cheesboard ever!
David: What? Why on earth do you want that?
Me: Because I love cheese and it’s shaped like a violin and has a bow for the knife! It’s the perfect cheeseboard for me.
David: Seriously? I think it’s weird. Why would you want a cheeseboard shaped like a violin?
Me: Because I play violin idiot! *Turns laptop round so my dad can see* Dad, isn’t this the most perfect cheeseboard for me?
Dad: To be fair Rach, your violin has been sat in its case at the bottom of my stairs for the last four years. I didn’t even think you wanted it anymore.
Oh. Well I guess he has a point. I haven’t played my violin in a long time. It’s probably not even in tune and the bow needs re-hairing.
I’ve always considered music to be a very big part of my life. I blog about music and I’ve always felt justified in my musical tastes and opinions because I’m a musician myself. But in reality, am I? I used to play the violin, cello, piano and recorder (yes – it is possible to bloody excellent at playing the recorder past the age of 9!). I used to read music. I used to sing. And I’m not just talking about school choir or pub karaoke, this was proper singing with a bloke with a guitar and an audience. But I don’t do any of that anymore. A whole piece of me has sort of faded and I hadn’t even noticed. So in the same way that my current colleagues never knew Miss H, David doesn’t know musical me.
On further thinking (dangerous ground) I reasoned that if parts of my personality disappear, then new aspects form to fill their place. So maybe a violin shaped cheeseboard isn’t perfect for me anymore. But a Westie shaped one might be? People might not associate me with music nowadays, but everyone knows that my dog is my life. Yet three years ago he wasn’t, because he hadn’t even been born yet.
What I’m getting at is that previously I’ve always thought of my identity as this static thing, but it isn’t. Not at all. It’s dynamic and constantly changing and growing. The core things remain the same, but as I go through life and have different experiences the things that define me will adapt and change. If only I’d come to this conclusion a year ago I would have seen that going from Miss H to Mrs S wasn’t losing a part of me. I could pick up my violin tomorrow and although I might be a bit rusty at first, I could still play it. The past is all still there, I haven’t erased it. I just evolved.
And I got all that from a cheeseboard.