Tag Archives: experience

The Search for Identity

Standard

Since I can really consciously remember (since middle school or so), I feel that I’ve been on this quest to understand who I am and how I fit in with the world. I know, that’s not at all unusual for such an age–but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Throughout high school, I wore the clothes my youth group wore. (I tried to make my boyfriends wear them, too. That was weird.) I dyed some of my hair purple. And later, I started dying it more natural colors, and I tried all kinds of lengths and styles. I hiked through some trails and tried taking pictures, thinking I could be a photographer if only I tried. I ate vegetarian because I wanted to be a health nut, like my dad. I played in the marching band, jazz band, concert band, church worship band…I played saxophone, and trombone, and guitar, keys, bass, and even tried drums. I was in honor societies and other clubs that I can’t even remember. All I remember is that I was busy, doing everything.

Some of that stayed. Some of it didn’t. That is normal–in fact, it’s what Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist, calls that age from 12-18 years old the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage. This is the part of our lives where we form our identities, decide who we’re gonna be.

And yet…I had forgotten all of that stuff I did when we had started talking about the stages of Identity in one of my Psychology classes in college. I feared that I had been a case of Identity Foreclosure–where no exploration happens, a person simply accepts the beliefs of his/her parents without questioning, altering, or choosing. I mean, the people who do engage in identity foreclosure do tend to be very successful, happy, and have good self-esteem. But that is so frowned upon by our society–and I tried not to think about how “bad” I would be if that were true of me.

But, after more examination, it’s not–all of those things are typical of the stage of Identity Moratorium, the precursor to Identity Achievement. Moratorium is the period of searching and exploration before one decides on an identity; Achievement is the decision for that particular identity.

I do think that this stage extends into the college age–why else would people be hard partiers, experiment with substances, and try on different religions in college, only to turn out to be someone completely different after five or ten years? I mean, those are drastic examples–but this period is the time when we’re learning about what the world really is and how we’re gonna fit into it. Who we are, in terms of the rest of the world. The factors of finances, being away from family, doing stuff for yourself, and generally being alone weren’t previously there. And now they are, and you’re navigating them and trying to figure out who you are with them.

Maybe I’ve foreclosed on some things. I’ve certainly achieved some things. And…I think I’m still doing some searching on some things, too. I don’t think those stages are an all-or-nothing deal–one can only be “mostly true” for a given person…some are closer to those extremes than others.

So I’m not so sure that the quest for identity ever truly ends. Or maybe, I’m not ready for it to end right now. I’ve chosen some things and am dedicated to them, but I haven’t chosen on some other things. And that’s okay.

I don’t think it’s ever to late to discover.

Being Who I Am, Where I Am: A New Direction

Standard

I feel that the summer months have watched me slowly slip back into my all-too-familiar social silence.

I went to a surprise birthday party last night. It was all people I’m acquainted with, but haven’t actually had a conversation with. A few months ago, I would have viewed it as a perfect situation–it’s weird to talk to someone you’ve never seen, and only sticking with people you know well can become monotonous. Acquaintance is opportunity.

But no…last night, social anxiety reigned and I could barely find my voice. (Except when a couple of young moms started talking about their birth stories. Those were the most interesting things I’d heard all summer–did you know that delivering a baby on your back is one of the worst ways to give birth?–and I forgot about my anxiety. But then, a new anxiety came…ha!)

It’s a really terrible feeling when all you want to do is interact with someone, but all you can think about is that you don’t want to bother them. Or that you’re too young, or not at the same stage of life, and so you are simply naive and don’t have much to offer–after all, they’ve already been where you are; they’re probably “over it”.

Reading back over that, it’s the most sickening sack of lies I’ve ever heard. Yet when they swirl inside your head with no outlet except for a couple of nervous giggles, it’s all you’ve got.

You see…there is a reason that all of those things take hold over me. Not only am I introverted, which makes me prefer to be by myself…I am also a recovering co-dependent. That means that I let people’s thoughts, actions, words, and attitudes determine if I am inherently good or inherently bad at any moment. A day where I am wanted and appreciated is much different than a day where I am unwanted or unappreciated…it determines my motivation, my mood, my view of my work, my self-esteem,…

And my coping mechanism has always been, as long as I can remember, to shut down and stuff my emotions way deep down, in the name of duty…and they always explode later. I’ve gotten better about that, but I still don’t really understand what I should do with them if I shouldn’t bottle them up.

While we’re on the topic of my problems, I struggle with not viewing myself as “good enough” to be a part of certain groups. I spent my entire freshman year of college wholeheartedly believing I wasn’t as good a trombonist as my same-age counterparts. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to perform and learn. Now…I don’t feel like I am good enough to “fit in” with other married people…especially those with kids. I know, it’s ridiculous, but it plagues me. I find these categories that I could fit into, and then I find ways that I’m not really good enough for them.

I wanted to start a blog that has encouraging, heartfelt, life-changing stories. The ones that you walk away from and you feel that life isn’t so bad after all; and now I have strength to face tomorrow.

But now…I’m thinking that I just want to go on a journey. Life¬†is a journey…and it was silly of me ever to think that I should only tell stories after they are over.¬†But if life is not over, my stories are not over.

This is a new direction. This is for accepting life as it is…whether I am where I want to be, or not. Whether I have something encouraging to say or not. Whether I have a point or not. I don’t care about getting traffic anymore. I don’t care about pleasing people; I just want to write.

And so dang it, I’m going to.

Here’s to the journey of life. Through my co-dependency, through my bottled-up emotions, through my skewed view of myself, through my successes, through my rule-following, my character, my introversion, my relationships, joy, anxiety, wisdom, foolishness.

This is everything. Spilling out. Whether it’s good enough or not.

And it’s gonna be awesome.

Day 6: Steal; Savor the Journey

Standard

This is Day 6 of the Great Writers series from Goins, Writer.

I haven’t really been blogging through it because I’ve kinda been lacking inspiration (as silly as that may seem…seeing as I am given a prompt every day to work on). Most of them have seemed to me to be “thinking” prompts, and they all seem to be centered around starting a project. I haven’t been at this whole writing thing for long, so I don’t have any dreams yet to put into action.

But anyways, I am totally up for today’s challenge: take inspiration from somewhere else, and incorporate it into my writing.

One thing that really inspires me is my mom’s art. She is so talented and it’s been a beautiful journey to watch her art change and develop as she pursues it more. When I see a new painting of hers, I feel like I am looking directly at her heart.

“Savor the Journey” by Heather Santos at Sparrow’s Journey

I want you to take a long, hard (or soft) look at that piece before reading on. Notice the details. Notice your emotions. Think about what it means to the artist…to you.

Read the rest of this entry