A Curious Case of Mistaken Identity: Knowing Who You Are

  • Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW
  • Series: Dear Rosa

A few years ago, our oldest daughter was mistaken for someone else. The following is her recount of the incident in her own words:

“During my second semester of college, I arrived at school late. I had my backpack, purse, lunchbox, and thermos firmly in hand as I blended into a crowd of 11-12 year olds who were on a field trip. I made it through the doors and tried to head down the main hallway to my classroom. A very dedicated elementary school teacher stopped me and insisted that I not leave the tour group. We argued back and forth, me wanting to get to my class and her firmly telling me to ‘put my backpack and lunch on the bus’ and ‘join the other kids’. (To be fair to the teacher, it should be understood that when I stand as straight and tall as I can, I barely measure five feet. So many of the young students were much taller.) After several minutes of arguing and her physically blocking my path, I won the argument by asking her if she’d taken attendance that morning (she had) and if she’d ever seen me before in her life (she hadn’t). I promptly stepped around her and headed off to my class.”

Although humorous, this vignette demonstrates a few key points:
Do not look to others to validate your identity. It is important to know who you are even when strangers are telling you that you are someone else. It is important to know your rightful place and proper path even when someone is trying to steer you wrong.