Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(2) Identity crisis 101: The basics

For a while now, I have been in the middle of a identity crisis - a torment of either possibilities or the apprehension there is a lack of possibilities - and I find myself devoid of direction and definition.  While this may seem a bit melodramatic to suggest that I've become a metaphysical being in my absence of self-identifying marks, I do think think that a large part of me is missing and consumed by an abyss of Lord knows what... perhaps peanut butter.

You see, I've been on the road to academic achievement and career success for my entire life.  Ever since my childhood I've watched working mothers do phenomenal jobs at home and in the work place with the ever constant encouragement of "you can be anything you want to be" hummed in my ear by an equality driven society.   The thing about that encouragement, however well intentioned, is that expectations are established of what life should look like and consist of and, now that I am an adult, I find myself veering from that road and wondering where exactly I am going and what exactly I am looking for.  I some how managed to grow up entirely focused on becoming a someone that I forgot to figure out who I was then and am now.  So between the choices I've made, the things that have happened and the seredipidous moments that shape our lives, I've found myself at an impasse - not who I was, not content with who I am currently and desperately longing find a delicate balance of social acceptance and genuine self respect.  

When I was living in China a few years back, I began to read a book that I identified with inside and out:  Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love.  Perhaps my connection with her was due to my travels or perhaps it has more to do with her use of voice, but I connected with her search for self and in rereading the book recently, I came across a concept I find intriguing: single word definition.  Essentially, given the constraint that you can only use one word to completely define a person, place or thing, I chose a word that I feel adequately reflects a contiguous strand of past, present and future me... create. 

In the past, my word could have been perfection. Now it could be compassion or self-less. 
But, in the end, each of those words and their related situations is something I actively created for myself, not necessarily a sole definition of me.  Each day I attempt to create a life of happiness within my home and joy for my family. I hope to create ripples of respect for myself which can spread ring by ring. I dream that I will create something worthwhile from my life that I can look back upon on my dying day and truthfully tell myself "you done good, pal."  

In debating where to take my life from where it is now to where I want it to be, I need to find a balance between my external roles as caring daughter, loving wife and devoted mother with my malnourished and deformed internal role as self.  As it is currently stands, I feel caught in limbo - dutifully fulfilling the first three roles to my best (and plausibly falling short) ability, but lacking both a venue to release my creativity from its cage of expectation and the inspiration to fuel the passion it so deserves.  

Needless to say, I am trying to create that venue here and to light that fire in the pit of my soul that will get the book ideas I have out onto paper and, maybe someday, into a publisher's hands.  I am honestly not sure what should come next, but I do know that Liz Gilbert's thoughts on creativity are a starting point for another step forward  Check out this lecture she gave and enjoy:  http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

** Food for thought and future rambling:  if your daemon could only take the shape of one animal, what would it be and why?

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