The ways in which we are labeled and identified over the course of our lives is truly amazing. During my formative years, I was always introduced as someone's daughter or granddaughter. This helped me break into a larger world where I became part of a Pack, and eventually earned a title that will follow me always: NC State graduate.

When I began my first post college job, I was finally just me. I had a familiar circle of colleagues, friends and loved ones who called me simply by my first name – "Kristy will be there," or "Kristy’s on top of that." It felt great to have evolved into my own person, earning their camaraderie and respect.

When I met the man I was meant to spend the rest of my life with, I became someone's wife – but I was still Kristy, and it launched a running joke of how similar my name was to his. I was a working professional, homeowner, and taxpayer. All things that required an identity. All things that made me uniquely me.

Once we were blessed with children, though, that changed. At least from my perspective. My children took the spotlight and became more important than everything else. And that was as it should be. My role evolved into caregiver, supporter, and cheerleader. I first became Daniel's mom, then Cameron's [mom] ... no other moniker necessary. I’m sure all of the mothers out there know what I’m talking about.

Today I had the opportunity to meet some neighbors. We’d lived basically across the street from each other for some time, yet never met face to face. As the wife introduced her husband, he wondered aloud which house I lived in. When I told him where, he reminded me of another identity I’ve acquired in recent years: the cucumber lady. With a garden that produces more than we could ever eat, I’d been leaving a bowl of cucumbers on my front porch for neighbors each summer. It made my heart happy to learn that without realizing it, I had already reached out to these sweet neighbors who I could now call another one of my favorite designations: friend.

So be proud of all the roles you play and the labels you wear. You never know who you might have impacted by just being you.
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