Is Self-Reinvention Possible or Am I Kidding Myself?   by    Ruth Utnage

In Tara Westover’s memoir “Educated”, which is a fascinating page-turner of a book, she is constantly reconciling her former self with a her new self. For me the question “can I reinvent myself” continues to emerge. As I read each page this question has become quite the plague.

Here is this person who was uncovered an independent and intelligent woman within and it is painfully obvious in her memoir that she asks herself similar questions about her own past. Can she move on or will she be forever her past. I wonder the same thing. Clearly our pasts are incomparable, I’m not suggesting otherwise but I would be lying if I said I didn’t see at least pieces of myself in her writing, there’s a certain resonance that I cannot help but identify with.

I have less than 18 months left before I potentially release from prison and I am not wanting to pretend my past never happened, to include my crime and previous life, but I don’t want to be defined by my past only. It seems as though my only real barrier is, me. It’s the inner voice inside my mind that whispers things like “you’re not a real woman”, “people will never accept you”, “you’ll never be a grad student, let alone a post-grad student”…and on and on and on.

I’m getting better at adding personal definitions to who I am but I am not so good at deleting old ones. I can confidently say I am an intelligent, perseverant, confident woman and in the same breath, same sentence even, say that I am also dumb, foolish, and part male. Some part of me believes every word to one degree or another. Sometimes it’s not even my voice inside of me that affirms one or more of these things. Sometimes it’s the hostile voices of my former family, other times it’s the loving voices of my new family but the worst is when it’s my own.

I have to wonder if I am alone in this back and forth inner monologue, if my lack of absolute and resolute certainty is normal. There are things I know to be universal truth’s about myself:

I am a changed individual, for the better.
I no longer think the same way.
I refuse to hurt anyone else again, myself included, verbally or otherwise.
I know what love is and isn’t because I’ve done and experienced both.
I am a woman, despite having male anatomy, and,
I don’t care what anyone else thinks about that.
I am going to accomplish my goals.

I have zero idea who sent me the book “Educated” by Tara Westover, but to whoever it was…thank you and expect a full review of it in the next few days.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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