Me, Without Labels

I’ve always had grandiose dreams of someday being famous. Truly. Ever since I was very young. Not in the “woman cuts off her hand in a meat grinder” or “woman goes on a shooting spree and kills 100 people” sense, but in a movie star sense.

I loved Ginger Grant in Gilligan’s Island. I wanted to be her. I even recall one time my mom gave me one of her old dresses to play dress-up with. I had to beg for it, as she usually donated her dresses to Goodwill or passed them off on another person. So she gave me this dress, which, in my eyes, was the most beautiful dress ever. It was purple, shimmery, and had a satin tie to it. As I said, this was my vision of the dress. Knowing my mom’s style, it was none of these, but that is how I remember it. Anyhow, I wanted that dress to look like Ginger Grant’s dress, and so I decided cut a slit up the side of that dress. You know, show some leg, like Ginger. How very adult and sophisticated and smart. Did I mention that I was maybe six years old? Let’s not forget, we learn to cut in kindergarten, so I probably had one year of cutting paper down, at the time. Fabric is a whole different story. So maybe the line wasn’t that straight. But I will admit, it got me a lot of stares. Just not the staring a star receives. More like the look of “that stupid girl wrecked that beautiful dress.” But in my eyes, they were star-struck. (If you think I have a good imagination now, you should have seen my imagination then!)

Needless to say, that was the first and last dress my mom ever gave me for dress-up.

I have no idea why I have had these visions of grandiosity. Maybe it was because I was fourth child in a family of five kids, and I wanted to stick out in the crowd. Maybe it was because I am an extrovert by nature. Whatever the reason, I have always expected that I might someday run into a movie executive who determines that he is going to “make me a star!” Hey, there is still time. Look at the lovely Shirley Maclaine, still making movies after all these years. A lady can dream, right?

But seriously, I know I am not going to be a famous movie star, and that is all right with me. I have mostly accepted who I am. In fact, I hate to write down my labels I hold, because they are not who I really am. I am so much more than: wife, mother, sister, teacher, learner. There is something inside me that has yet to be defined, nor do I think it ever can be defined. It is my essence, my true self. And there are no labels to assign to it. The only label that even comes close is “Jill.”

My “boys” are now 22 and 21. In our more serious conversations, I keep trying to make the point to them that they are so much more than who they are now. I try to tell them not to get caught up in whatever labels they assign to themselves at this time in their lives. It is such a small part of who they really are. Really small, if we think back to our early adult years. I think they understand that they are still growing into themselves, but I know that they haven’t the ability to understand the full context of what I am trying to impress on them now.

Spend a few minutes today or this week to see if you can dig into one of the layers of who you really are, aside from all your labels. But don’t let it define you, because there are other layers of you that have yet to be discovered.

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