I’ve been struggling lately with the question: Who am I?
I know that sounds like a typical 20-something thing to ask, and really, who am I asking? It’s not as though I am going to get an answer from anyone out there. I need to decide it for myself.
It has been hard though to understand what it is that I live for; what are my passions, what fuels my fire, where do I want to be mentally, physically, and spiritually? I’ve tried to figure this out very systematically. Sit down, write some notes, see if any of it sticks. But it never works.
Instead, I’ve tried to recount my steps up until now. Which is not the most pleasant thing to do. I’ve had many situations that hurt me, defeated me, and took away my confidence. But at least there are some emotions there. Considering I am writing this, maybe I could say that I am persistent. This is a start.
However, I keep trying to move away from one glaring fact about me. I know I am sitting here trying to make some things up, come up with words to describe myself, the kind of words that maybe I would stick on my resume under ‘Interpersonal Skills’. It’s meaningless, and I am just avoiding it. I’m avoiding it because I have always looked at it negatively since I decided I needed to break free of it.
I live for other people.
At least, that is how I used to look at it. I guess in some ways I still do. I’m still on this journey of finding myself, and I have always felt trapped and broken by that statement. Like others’ needs and approval have stunted my growth into this fulfilled person I ought to be by now. Like I have given up everything to satisfy everyone else, instead of doing what I love.
But, this isn’t really true.
It’s all a matter of perspective, really.
It also is a matter of how I choose to respond in situations. I’ve realized I don’t always need to say yes; I do have a voice after all. I can negotiate, compromise, or decline if I want to. The choice is mine, even if I feel guilty sometimes.
But more than this, I have realized that being sensitive to other people, in its own way, is a beautiful thing. Too many people lack sympathy, but more so empathy, and that shuts them off from caring, being kind, and making this world a little easier and better to live in, for everyone.
I was actually told something very interesting a few years ago from someone. Someone who didn’t really know me but was so in touch with the human spirit that she could see right through me. I didn’t realize until now the truth and weight behind her words. She said:
“You are on a journey, not an easy one, but a great one. The path set out for you isn’t fully laid out, instead it is created underneath you with each step. This makes it exciting and interesting, but you feel nervous because you like to know, to be in control, because you feel so much out of control.
This path, think of it like your ‘yellow brick road’, is made up of so many pieces put together. Yours is special. You are like a mosaic, much of who you are is made up of your experiences with other people. Your bricks are all different shapes and colours, and were created by your relationships. Some are bright, some are not, but they form this foundation that will lead you forward.
However, there are some gaps in this road. There are areas that are waiting for you to fill them. They are meant just for you and you haven’t yet made them. Your biggest challenge is to find balance and you will, as long as you remember not to step over yourself. You can always go back, but don’t leave it for too long or your ground will be unsteady and you won’t take the time you need to build yourself a strong place to stand.
While you may not see it yet, you’re fascinating. You are someone who shakes things up. When you cross paths with people, you change something about them, because they change something about you. Weave in your colours, and you can go anywhere.”
I forgot about this moment until recently. That yes, I do need to take more time with myself, try new things, or go on adventures. Mostly because I am finding that I get excited about different creative endeavours and seeing new places. I want to explore this more so I can fill those gaps. But I also wouldn’t be standing on the edge of my path, ready to move forward, had I not walked here from somewhere. I can be interesting, even if I speak about things other people have shared with me. I can be fun, even if that means I’m staying in on a weekend watching art documentaries. I’m a mosaic. I think that is it. I am me, you, and them, but the way these pieces fit together is unique to me and mine to own.
I do live for other people. But I should change the words and that will change the meaning. I live with other people. I live with their love, sorrow, advice, happiness; I live with all these emotions and experiences in a way that enriches my own life. I can be proud of it. I feel like maybe I have lived a thousand lives and I’ve learned so much and taken great qualities from each of those exchanges. That living for, or with, other people doesn’t mean losing out. I can do so much with all I’ve learned. I am laying these bricks, one-by-one, with my own hands and just never thought of it that way. I am doing it myself, some alone and some with others, but I am putting it together in a way that makes me.
I thought I needed to have this all figured out by now, but I really don’t need to rush for this answer. Because I can see all of these amazing colours, and who I am, coming together in pieces of a beautiful mosaic.