Excuse me, I believe you have made a mistake in your perception of me. You see, I know that you think I am a dog person. In reality, I love cats. I know it is an easy mistake to make when you see me walking my beautiful dogs. I will be the first to admit that I am crazy about Nadia and Katrina, but it does not change the fact that the world looks at my life and misjudges me. I spent a lifetime being terrified of dogs, and it is a testament to Nadia’s sweet nature that the world now sees me completely differently than I view myself.
Who am I really? Am I, as those who glimpse my current life assume, a dog person? Or am I, as I still think of myself 8 years after bringing Nadia home, a cat person? The truth is that identity is full of nuance. It is said that people do not change, but I do think that if we are open to the possibilities we can absolutely learn and evolve. In fact, not only are our identities fluid, I would argue that one person has as many different identities as people they come into contact with in their lives.
When I was a teenager I was an angry introvert. I have worked very hard over the last decade or so to change how I view the events in my life that led me to feel that way and break both of these patterns. I recall how shocked I was the first time I told a friend that I was an introvert and received a surprised reaction. I had known this person for approximately 2 years. He had seen me interact with people in a myriad of situations. How could he not see it? That conversation was very eye opening for me. Over time, I have come to understand that our identities are tied up in more than our inborn traits and life experiences, but also how others consider us.
Happily, when family, friends, and acquaintances see you in a positive light, it can also reinforce your self-esteem. I am still waiting for my wonderful husband to see what I see when he looks in the mirror. I have high hopes that we are a family that can make peace with our pasts and the attendant identities that we built up to protect ourselves and keep others away. So far, so good. We have made a wonderful life and are very grateful for each other and our wonderful friends.
No matter how you perceive me based on our entwined experiences, please do me one favor: do not tell Nadia and Katrina that I am really a cat person. I do not think it is necessarily to shake their perceptions of their mommy-person!