Who are you? What comes to your mind first when this question is asked. Most people tell they are a mother or father a husband or wife and what they do for living. If person has something very different in them that is usually told. I have a very strange name so I often tell people when I meet them for the first time that my father is from U.S.A. I already know the questions that will then follow (Have you always lived in Finland, Why do you live in Finland, Do you visit your father often?) So I usually tell bit more to make it easyer for everyone and to change the subject.
Our identity, how we think about ourselves is not something fixed, it changes. The kids grow and we are still mothers and fathers but thats not the first thing we tell about ourselves when we meet a new person. Anything can influence to the way we see ourselves. My marriage ended very suddenly couple years ago. Since then I had always identified myself as a mother and a wife. I was working only part-time and taking care of our farm-house and animals. After my divorce I started working full-time and continued with my studies, I also built my own house very close to my old house. Our decision to stay as neighbors with my ex-husbaned was often wondered or admired. For us it was the only way to keep everyday life working somehow.
The first year the hardest part was that I had to drive pass my old life everyday. I could just fell how everything in me changed but almost everything around me stayed the same. I had been together with my husband since I was 23. Now I had to identify myself again, ask who am I? That was not easy and some of the most stupid things were done then but because of this question I also made the best decisions of my life.
It was not a change for better or for worse (Or maybe some people have an other opinion of this), it was not something that everybody around me can see but it was a change in how I see myself. This might sound like I had been very much depending on my husband in my life but many sociology’s (Mead, Cooley, Sullivan) have agreed with this “The thing mostly influencing on how we see ourselves is the way others see us”. Cooley talks about reflective appraisals which means that we see ourselves as others see us but not just like any other. We only choose the opinions of those who matter the most to us. That Is why the way we see ourselves changes when te people around us change. Of course other things also influence to our identity: what we do, where we live, what we want to achieve. I think it is important to realize that the way the people around see us has such an big impact to how we see ourselves. But also we need to remember that way we see our loved ones has a big impact on them.