Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Looking Glass Self

The looking glass self (a term coined by Charles Horton Cooley) describes how we develop our identity--that our sense of self comes from social interactions and how we THINK others perceive us. Basically, your identity (in your mind) is a reflection of how you think others see you. Okay, I am being redundant and this isn't the point...

The point is (here's my point, Dude--for The Big Lebowski fans out there) I am not exactly sure what my looking glass self is reflecting these days. I had always told my self I would never be "one of those" military wives whose life is so totally wrapped up in their husband's identity that they lose some of what makes them an individual--that I would never totally conform to military life in order to keep that sense of my former self. Since the completion of Buzz's latest deployment, I have had lots of time to reflect on the independence and strength I have gained. I have been so proud of myself, my marriage, the strength of my little family and amazing friends. Sometimes, I want to yell all of this to the world--especially here.

I have always kept in mind that there is a world out there separate from the military and I was still connected to that. But now I am out in that world--and I'm not nearly as connected as I thought! I guess I could blame it on J-Vegas--I mean that place is so isolated from "the real world" I can't even put it into words. (I have always wondered why a place that housed so many Marines--some of the finest men (and women) and their families from across the globe--could be so crappy. But I digress again...) I suppose I could blame this lack of connection on the fact that the past few years, I have been essentially locked into that little military town where pop culture is covered by the dark curtains of military life--especially deployments. I mean, when you are keeping your family together on your own through deployments and struggles, who has time to learn the latest phrases or styles. I guess I am coming to realize the biggest "connection" (if you can call it that) with what is going on outside of my little world has been with tv shows. :) (And we all know how well the media--especially dramas--portray reality!)

So now I am here--losing the excitement of being away from the military town and trying to regain the connections I THOUGHT I had with the outside world. I am SO the person I never thought I would be. I am "that girl" who tells people all the time about her husband in the Marine Corps. I connect about every concept in my classes to something military-related. I have no idea what people wear or talk about or do for fun. I don't know fads. I don't know what a hipster is--well, I didn't--my classmates are teaching me. :)

Wow--what a loser people must think I am. This crazy girl with the southern accent (but at least that's way more common here--and mine isn't bad compared to some locals) who talks about her husband and daughter like they are the only people who exist in the world. Maybe she doesn't even realize that we don't know OR care about what military life is like. Has she been lost in a bubble somewhere? She knows nothing of what goes on in life.

I guess my looking glass self is feeling a little shattered and uncertain. I am trying to keep that confidence I have gained at the forefront of my mind and hope some of that starts reflecting and overshadowing all of these insecurities. Although I am not sure they are really insecurities and I am really not sure why I care at all. I have my family together and I am pursuing THE career path that I want. But now I am mixed in with all of these "regular" people and I am just not sure where I fit in (as I have mentioned before) and I am not sure how they see me.

Moving forward (and trying to stop this rambling rant) I am going to work on embracing who I am--ALL parts of that person. I AM a military wife and a mom...I am also a PhD student in sociology. I may not know all of the current fads, trends, etc. but that's not really important to who I am--never has been. I have always had pride in the fact that I am pretty much an open book and I don't try to change myself, my image, my life to fit in or please people. (Yet on the other hand, I have a need for approval from others.) That was pretty much my attitude when I entered this military life...and, in hindsight, that is how I ended up fitting in. Maybe I am "one of them" but I am proud of that. Maybe I talk a lot about my amazing husband and daughter--but I am proud of that, too. Yeah, the military is still a big part of my life even when I am not in a military town--so what? Semper fi!

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