Who am I?

"Who am I?"


That's a loaded question, at least, that's my immediate response to it. A strange reflex response to have, maybe, whilst simultaneously, I am trying to formulate my answers in my mind. One voice shouts "I'm nothing special, just a middle-aged woman, a wife and mother," whilst in the background, there are whispers championing my skills, my experiences, my passions and all that is uniquely me. All these facets combine together to make me.


I have been struggling a little this year, with the identity I thought I had started to embrace. Proud of myself last year, whenever I said "I'm a writer" rather than my default response of "I used to be a teacher," now I am allowing fraudulent whispers to take hold again. I have written far less frequently since my drama group, Acting Up, has been running again. So I find myself asking if I can call myself a writer if I am not writing very much? My role as a producer in the group has left little time for me to sit and think for long enough to write in any meaningful way.


We have just completed our show - a tremendous accomplishment when so many barriers have been thrown our way, in the process. Back in 2020, our rehearsals were stopped abruptly and the show cancelled. Last year, we found ourselves without a venue for rehearsing, performing or storing the resources that we have accumulated over many years. With all that in mind, I am truly grateful that we all had the chance to stand in the spotlight again, with a new venue and a whole rebranded feel to the group. I am also aware that I am finding the whole process of doing so, more challenging and more tiring than I used to. Age is a curious being. Physically, there are obvious limitations now. I can still sing and dance, but not like I used to.

Ballet solo, Adrian Mann Theatre, 1986 (I think!)


Yet, I think it is the effect that my age is having on me mentally, that is more significant. I am not exactly 'old' - what is that quantified as anyway? But I reckon that I am one of the oldest performers in our group now. That fact has got me asking whether I should hang up my dancing shoes? That would be a difficult decision, for dancing has been a part of me since the age of four - slipping on my elasticated ballet shoes to skip around a draughty church hall, practicing 'good toes, naughty toes' and thinking I was a princess. I continued with dance classes all through secondary school, when it wasn't the 'cool' choice, and then beyond, dancing and helping others to do the same, until now - choreographing numbers in our latest show.


Just as dance is at my core, I recognise that both 'the teacher' and 'the writer' personas have become woven into the very fabric of me. I may not be in a primary classroom now, but I still think like a teacher, still glow a little inside if I have helped someone to understand something new. I would jump back into the classroom tomorrow, if the job was truly focused on the teaching part - igniting a little magic as a story cast its spell around the room, or their questions brought a topic to life, along with all the other little wins that made a day worthwhile.


As for being a writer, I might not be getting words on paper regularly, but I constantly react as a writer. Words frequently dance around my head. I see characters forming as I meet people, imagine scenarios when in conversation, and I respond to my day-to-day with poetry. My notebook already has many poems upon its pages this year. It is perhaps because I don't yet have a purpose for them, that I am letting that noisy imposter syndrome stamp around again. Purpose and direction have been difficult for us all in the last couple of years. I am sure I am not alone in questioning what I am doing or in trying to form more of a plan than getting through the week, one day at a time.


I don't know exactly where I am going with my writing, my dancing, even my day-to-day right now, but perhaps that will get clearer over time. I will keep plodding on with all of it for now, because all of it together, is frankly who I am.


Who am I?


I am a woman,

I am a friend,

I am a mother -

a job with no end.


I am a writer

Overthinking my art,

I'm a performer

with dance at my heart.


I am a listener,

I try to be kind,

I walk among trees

to help settle my mind.


I am a thinker,

A daughter, a wife,

I bake and drink coffee

and reflect on my life.


I taught many children,

Helped confidence grow,

Worked long hours and gave more

than many will know.


I bruise just like others,

I laugh and I cry,

Yet I struggle to answer, when asked

"Who am I?"


Karen Honnor - February 2022

Chichester Harbour, April 2019 - still looking to my horizon.




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