My Mid-30’s Identity Crisis

My sister in law Sara entered the family while my husband and I had the merit and privilege to live in the holy land of Israel, where we led a sheltered, insular and materialistically simple lifestyle – and I loved it. It was my dream to raise my family studying Torah and serving G-d in this holy environment. I found beauty in this path of service and barely ever ventured out of this box. From where I hung out to who I hung out with, and to what I watched and read. Shortly after she entered the family we began our job hunt. You see my husband had decided it was time to leave our comfort zone and go out and make a difference, take some responsibility and pay forward all that we had received during these years of immersing ourselves in study and share with other Jews.

Our first community building job was in Seattle. I had a tough adjustment period but then embraced my role as outreach Rebbetzin and started adapting to my new environment. I started talking about things his family had never heard me talk about before. Take composting for example. I’d say the word compost and Sara would excitedly announce “New Giti”. Then there were the times when my lexicon would reflect a part of myself deeply ingrained from my past and Sarah would sigh and say “Old Giti.”

The Fredmans love ribbing each other and it became a “thing.” Fast forward seven years and my nuclear family was having a series of small annoyances and fiascos. It started with a raccoon in our basement. Next, all our car and house keys got stolen out of a friend’s car that was broken into. One of the boys lost their expensive black Italian Borsalino Shabbat hats and I lost my cell phone. Someone else got their paws on my cellphone, hacked through the code and started being an active member of the Fredman family Whatsapp chat. Being an active member consists of ribbing at people or gushing over millions of pictures of children. I don’t have interest in either: Ribbing at people is not my style; I try to be nice and I thank G-d have a house full of my own children to gush over.

The family was baffled. David my husband promptly informed them that this was an imposter, the phone thief. They all started calling him or her “Fake Giti.” I knew nothing about all this. I was very busy paying the exterminator and locksmith bill, shopping for a new hat and choosing a new phone.

Weeks later after all the dust settled I commented on the family Whatsapp chat – perhaps because it was a particularly adorable picture? – and immediately everyone responded: “Who is this: Fake Giti or Real Giti?”

I was so confused and texted back from my new phone “I don’t know what you are all talking about. You usually make fun of me by calling me old Giti and new Giti who are fake Giti and real Giti?”

This was enough to set me into a mid-30’s identity crisis. Who am I anyway?

Although there is not really time for me to have a mid-30’s identity crisis. There is no time to obsess or ruminate at all. The days and weeks are rushing by as if I’m on a fast-paced ride. It’s actually a roller coaster called life. The highs are high and the lows are low. There’s a pendulum swinging and when I have a successful moment that gives me the illusion that I’m getting the hang of it G-d will inevitably send a humbling experience my way. As I vacillate between old and new habits, being fake and real, weak and strong, taking the high road and getting down and dirty, feeling like an athlete and a couch potato, Martha Stewart and Amelia Bedelia I decide all these names, labels and adjectives are inconsequential in the big picture. The adjective I need before my name if I’m going to have longevity in any pursuit is resilience.

Resilience will get me through the roller coaster with its lows and its highs.

Resilience and grit have become buzz words in the self-help dialect. Since reading Cheryl Sandberg’s bestseller Option B, I have been thinking about how in line the wisdom in the book is with our Torah values. In the book of Proverbs, it says that a righteous person falls seven times and keeps picking themselves up. Falling is inevitable, challenges and failure are a part of life. What defines a person is how they react after the fall. I pray to G-d that I’m granted lots more time to master the trait of being resilient. It’s the trait that all facets of my identity truly need to embrace the old, the new, the fake, the real — and opportunities abound.