Identity. 8 little letters. One big question. Who am I?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a book I shamelessly run to often, "Identity" is defined as, "The name of a person" and "Who someone is."
Ok, cool. I'll start there.
"The name of a person." I am a lady of many names. Sure, nicknames are enjoyable and I've had a few fun ones over the years, but my name is something that has always seemed to change. From the moment I drew my first breath in this world, I (and my beautiful twin sister) were put into Foster Care together. Some of the homes we stayed in were with real family members, but later in the years at least 10 families weren't. Throughout my youth I had 4 legal first names and 3 legal last names, something many people don't know about me. Twice my first name was changed because the family I was living with "simply didn't like it." I remember being so bemused. Was I not enough? Why did people want to change me? It was hard enough trying to figure out who I was while being a twin, but this added on a new dynamic to my identity crisis. My label kept changing, so I thought I needed to as well. (Side note: "Faith" was the only part of my name that stayed constant, and that is a testimony in and of itself.)
Ok, so back to identity. My name has been all over the place, so let's move onto the second part of the definition: "Who someone is."
When I was 5 years old I saw my first musical, "Singing in the Rain." The moment it started to rain from the ceiling and water splashed onto my face I was hooked. I started dance classes and voice lessons that Fall, and my love for the arts is just as significant today. I was fortunate enough to do theatre throughout the entirety of my Foster Care years, but although theatre healed me and was my "home" in so many ways, it also positioned a big question mark upon my identity.
My entire life I have acted, and not just on stage. I became a professional at modifying myself to play towards any audience, even if that audience was simply a family I existed with. I wanted so badly to be loved that I was willing to become the "perfect child" in any home I was placed in. I thought I was the one who needed to change and be “fixed.” If they wanted funny, I was funny. If they wanted quiet, I was quiet. If they wanted smart, I would study for hours. I was constantly becoming the person others wanted around and I didn’t even realize it. It was exhausting.
After I turned 18 I was finished with Foster-Care and ran away to college with so much freedom in my heart. Finally! I get to be me! But after a few years of scrambling and trying to appear "put together" to the world, I crashed. After acting for so many years I didn't even know who I was. Who even is Keeli Faith?
Two years ago I hit rock bottom. I remember driving home after a family oriented holiday (maybe Thanksgiving?) and breaking down emotionally in the car. Full on weeping. Mascara and snot everywhere. Up until that point I hadn't cried in years due to the vast amount of trauma I experienced in Foster Care, but no matter how old I get it hurts not having a family to go home to. At 22 years old I looked in the mirror, wiped off my face, and finally realized that it was time to stop acting in life, and get real with myself. Let the ugly be seen and let honesty lead the way.
That breakdown was the best thing that could have happened to me. Now, at 24 years old, I am more "me" than I have ever been. I've taken the pressure off. Not everyone is going to like me, and that's ok! I'm still enough! Everyday I process the hurts from the past a little bit more and share more of who I am without the fear of being pitied, and most importantly I live in the moment and keep my eyes peeled for the "daily happys" that are sure to come.
So my identity. Today I am:
Joyful, flawed, consistent, healing, worthy of love, beautiful, necessary, and enough.
I am Keeli Faith, and I can't wait to see who I become tomorrow.
It’s so nice to meet you. #BeBonaFide
I'm sitting here tearing up... Keeli is officially on my hero list. I was blown away by her words and story. This post is exactly what the #bebonafide movement is all about. She has made the choice to find joy in her story. Life is easy for none of us and Keeli has grazed the path for us to share our story. Thank you for you sending your words over Keeli! We truly can not spread this message with out inspiring people like you.