Sunday, November 23, 2014

Low-Fat Love 101: Cultivating Your Identity

Last month my blog offered advice on how parents can help their daughters develop a positive sense of self. My first piece of advice centered in the importance of cultivating independent interests and skills, such as activities in the arts. This advice came from a personal place as my daughter Madeline (12 years old) has endured extensive bullying which of course has impacted her sense of self. How could it not? However, her lifelong love of art-making, which I have encouraged and fostered (through classes and supplies), has helped to ground her, given her an outlet for self-expression and become a significant and very positive part of her identity.

Kids_Theatre-770747Cultivating an identity based on personal interests and activities that can be engaged in independently is something that benefits adults just as much as children. When we have a strong sense of self, we are far less likely to settle for low-fat love in any areas of our lives. Having interests of our own, that are not dependent on the participation of others, is a way of developing a positive identity. Whether we enjoy photography, jewelry-making, writing, painting, theatre, yoga or some other activity, it’s important to find ways to expand our knowledge of it and to save time to engage with it. So consider taking an adult learning class at a local school, community center or museum, joining a writing group, auditioning for community theatre or finding other ways to participate in community theatre, or the like so you keep developing around your areas of interest.

Nurturing an interest you have, irrespective of whether or not you have any particular talent for it or designs on transforming it into anything beyond a hobby, is vitally important for several reasons such as: grounding your identity in activities that you are in control of and that are not dependent on others’ approval or participation; having a well you can always drink from when in need (for example for inspiration or as an antidote to loneliness or to lift your spirits when someone or something troubles you); adding richness, fullness and fun to your life; helping you see the best in yourself; personal growth and engagement (you may not always feel happy, happiness comes and goes, but you can be engaged).
I think my daughter can speak more eloquently on the importance of cultivating an identity based on a passion, and so with her permission I conclude with one of her poems. Here is “Masterpiece” by Madeline Claire Leavy-Rosen:

There are times when I ask myself why am I here?
Kids don’t like me and make me shed tears,
But still being disliked is not one of my fears
For I;
Am an artist, words can’t bring me down
No one can make me look like a clown,
I can always find comfort in my sketches,
The illustration catches my heart,
And helps me to create a brand new start,
People try to judge and criticize what they see,
Well guess what?
Maybe they just can’t recognize a masterpiece.

Comments

2 Responses to “Low-Fat Love 101: Cultivating Your Identity”
  1. Vera says:

    Wow, terrific poem. So full of wisdom that most kids and even many adults don’t have. Very well done.

  2. Patricia Leavy says:

    Madeline– your poem is wonderful just like you are. Thank you for letting me include it. So proud of you.

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