It’s been one year, folks

1 Aug

The year has flown by. What did I learn about myself? About OC? About life?

If I had to sum up my experience in one sentence it would be this:
For the first time in my life, I don’t have anything to define my identity.

I have always had my job, my partner, or the community I was living in to define who I was. My best friends in college came from the dorm I lived in. Years later, I had become so tight-knit with the neighbors in my building that we would talk about 675 11th Street like it was an exclusive club. My sense of purpose was derived from my job at the women’s center on campus, and again as director of my previous organization. I felt like I was part of Oakland.

In Orange County, I am an anonymous face in a nondescript city where I have few friends, at a job where my main role is to be a non-judgmental facilitator of other people’s work. I’m also in my first romantic relationship where I have not attached myself to my boyfriend and his identity. There are no lines for me to draw declaring which side I’m on, and there are no lines forced on me by others.

The freedom and power to define myself as I want. No pressure of needing to fit in, no professional demands, no historical baggage to cart along, no punishments or consequences.

Some people might find this liberating. I find it terrifying.

Who am I if not the work I do? Who am I if not the company I keep? Who am I if not a member of my community?

It’s only recently sunk in that I’ve always defined myself by association. I’m part of this family, I work at this organization, I know these people, even I’m this astrological sign. But since I no longer identify with where I live, where I work, or who I know, I need to shift. It’s much more difficult for me to say who I am, what I want, how I feel.

To make matters worse, I’m experiencing a lot of anxiety about who I want to be. I’m worried that who I am, the person I’ve chosen to be amongst a bounty of choices, is a lazy girl sitting alone at the beach reading novels and eating cherries.

Anxiety notwithstanding, it was a relief to reach this clarity, that much of my uneasiness about my new life is tied to this shift in identity. That it’s not just me being apathetic and unmotivated. That it’s hard to strive for wholeness when you’re no longer sure who you are.

Whether or not it’s true, I’m declaring this period of transition over. One year of whining, over-analyzing, and constantly judging myself is enough. For the next year, I will try to avoid the pretentiousness of “who am I”, the whiny-ness of “why does my life suck even though it doesn’t”, and the fatalism of “I will be stuck here forever”. I will just ask myself little non-judgmental questions like “how do I feel in this moment?” and “do I like this?”

Ok, OC, I’m willing to give it another go. With a little more love and compassion this time.


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