There is a curious thing about internal identity – it has everything to do with self-perception and very little to do with the way others perceive you. This is why we sometimes puzzle over why some folks do the things they do – we operate off our perception of them which can be dramatically different than how they see themselves.
I understand this phenomenon as I have come to recognize over time that the way some folks see me and the way I see myself can be very different. My self-perspective is deeply rooted in the girl I grew up being – a regular girl from a blue collar world who daydreamed a lot about true love and having some skills that could perhaps help save the world. Of course that perspective was added to and clarified over the years by experiences and deeper understanding of self; but, there is one part of my identity that has never left me and never really changed after all these years – my blue collar heart.
I love my blue collar heart – it has been my compass my whole life and it has guided many of my life decisions. My blue collar heart has kept me grounded in the things that matter – love, family, trust, integrity, hard work, laughter, faith and community. It is, I believe, the best part of me.
My blue collar heart developed as a result of being raised by a father who was a blue collar worker and a stay-at-home mom. “Stuff” was never as important as people and experiences. Money may not have been abundant, but laughter, goodwill and friends abounded.
One thing that spending time with Jersey boy has done for me is to remind me of how much I value my blue collar heart. In the way he lives his life I see all the values my blue collar heart holds dear and I am reminded that in valuing and appreciating him and his blue collar heart, I likewise value and appreciate my own blue collar heart.
Some folks see me differently. They cannot imagine that I still carry around a blue collar heart all these years later. They think a blue collar heart is incongruent with my drive, determination and accomplishments. They puzzle why I am always attracted to what I perceive to be the true hearts and key values of blue collar boys. They wonder why I am content to be called by first name as opposed to my earned educational title. They believe my silly blue collar perceptions cause me to dwell societally in a place that is beneath my stature.
But that is not me – not the me I perceive myself to be. Ultimately, it is my perception of self that must win the day…ultimately, I always trust my blue collar heart to steer me in the right direction. I don’t ever apologize for my blue collar heart to those who struggle with the notion of it – to do so would be to eviserate all the things I hold dear; but, I do spend a lot of time explaining it to folks who wonder why I make the life choices I do. Personally, I think the world could use a lot more blue collar hearts to remind us that a life well-lived is about so much more than “stuff”, titles and glory. A life well-lived is a life well-loved, well-laughed and well-shared…well, at least that is what my blue collar heart thinks.
Day seven hundred and seventy-five of the new forty – obla di obla da