Sunday, June 30, 2013

identity crisis

Lets talk identity. It seems like recently I have been having a lot of conversations around identity. (Maybe I have been having them for years and never stop to think about it.) There are a few observations I have made.

People have identity crises sometimes. Its scary not only for the person who is living in it, but also for those around them - they can no longer categorize this person in their life. This is confusing on many levels. And Americans like structure and fitting people in boxes. Don't mess with our boxes. Things get messy.

People want to have identity in something. This goes back to wanting to be "known". Normally people are known for something they have accomplished or are exceptionally talented doing. When someone does not think they are exceptional at something, they feel their identity is lost, or worse - boring!

Identity, everyone has one. No matter what. Even you and me. We have classified ourselves. We create our identity and sometimes let others help shape it as well. Some aspects of our identity we love and some we loathe.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I have come to terms with my identity. Are you ready for it? I bet you'll never guess what it is. Well...first, let me tell you some things I am not, but at certain times in my life wished I was.

I am not crafty. I would love to love Pintrest. I would love to be able to put together a party and have decorations that are cute and vintagey - is that even a word? But I can't do it. Its not my thing. I want so desperately to knit you a sweater and wrap your gift with the perfect DIY bow I sewed together using the thread I dyed in my vintage bucket I got weathered personally by Anthropologie. But guess what - its not gonna happen. I have friends who are very gifted in this area and for a long time, instead of encouraging their gifts, I got jealous of them. No more. I will never own napkin holders and I will never know how to not match in order to match and be trendy. I probably will never enjoy a crafting party, The letters "DIY" stress me out when placed together in that order, and I will never be considered an artist. I am structured and type A with a Google Doc for everything. And that's ok - it makes me happy.

I am not a chef. BUT...drum roll please. I can cook. There, I said it. For years I have said "I cannot cook" and I have finally come to terms with the fact that I can. The correct terminology I should have embraced long ago is I do not enjoy cooking; and I am not creative while participating in it. And, again, that's ok! I will leave it up to my friends that like do it and write blogs about it and get enjoyment out of it - and I'll bring the wine. Which sounds like such a better option for me.

I am not a runner. This is verryyyy trendy amongst my friends. People run in Philly! They love it, so much so  that they join running clubs and run in pairs. They run a lot and for a long time and go really far...and they think its fun! I will never understand this, because I don't like running. But I like swimming and playing tennis, dancing and biking. All very equivalent to running, but the biggest difference is I enjoy those activities.

I am not gentle. When I became a Christian there was a verse that plagued me. It creeped into my inner dialogue and kept me up at night and made me whimper when I read it. 1 Peter 3:4. The author is talking about where a woman's beauty should come from. Let me quote it to you: "Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight". YIKES. Have you met me?? Gentle or Quiet are not things I do well. Brash and confrontational are more my speed. I'm a mover and a shaker! Spunky and full of life, unwavering in my beliefs, passionate, unyielding, excitable and boisterous are words that come to mind when I think of myself.  Now I have come to realize reading one line in the bible is a sure fire way to take holy scripture out of context and, in turn, get upset over the misunderstanding. After reading a few stories in the Bible about some of the women, I do not think God intended for us to be a "mushroom in the corner" as my father says (please read previous post about him, you will understand that reference much better). But seriously, He gave me this spirit for a reason - to keep you on your toes. Not to stifle my spirit and pretend to be something I am not. He made me this way for a reason, and I fully embrace the lively personality I possess.

I am not athletic. Gosh, I wish this weren't true. Because I like sports and I enjoy playing them. But lets be real - I'm not good at them. But it's not about winning or losing, its about how you play the game. Which in my case is not that hopeful because I play the game terribly. I have fun though! Sorry all you competitive boys I play any sports with! I am teaching you patience. Get over it.

I don't know anything about politics, history, science or most of what is going on around me. I am trying to get better at this, because I know this isn't something I should be proud of - and believe me, I'm not. I should know why our economy is failing and what happened in that war way back when. I should know the difference between an atom and a neuron...should those even be in the same category?? But I just haven't focused a lot of time or energy into learning that stuff. And I was a terrible student, so the little I did learn is now gone. Wiped clean to make room in the brain for other things.  So next time I laugh at your political joke or current event reference, know I am doing it to be nice and so that I won't appear dumb. I really have no idea what you are talking about. Much more than you probably think.

I'm not really that cool. I know - shocking.

Now I know what you are thinking, "wow Carolyn...depressing". But the good news is, I know what I am! For years I have struggled with focusing on the things I am not. I have looked at other people and thought, man I really wish I was crafty/artsy, athletic, smart, really cool. But I am not! So lets focus on what I am. Have you figured it out yet?

The answer is.....I am a people person. I like people. I know a lot about people, because I listen to them. I like talking to people and hearing their story and drinking coffee and taking walks while they talk about what makes them tick. What makes their heart beat a little faster and what makes their palms sweat. What makes their brows furrow and their stomach churn. I like to make people laugh and let them cry when they need to cry. I enjoy hearing about their journey and make them feel safe in sharing the process with another human being that could easily take that vulnerability and smash it into a million pieces. 

But more importantly, my identity is wrapped up in Christ and who He has made me. When I was having an identity crisis, a couple good friends pointed this out to me. Sure I could focus on all the things I am not, and all the things I could be or I could focus on the only thing that matters - Jesus. And a sigh of relief and comfort came over me. I don't have to impress anyone, I need no one else's approval. My only job here is to have an identity in Christ by glorifying who He is, what He has done and loving others in the process.

Instead of embracing the jealously that can arise when I hear about the amazing things others are doing and accomplishing, I will commit to encouragement, happiness and love. I don't think I am alone in this. I think we all feel it in some way. We were all made for greatness but if we are so focus on someone else's greatness, we will miss our story. Let us not focus on our shortcomings, or the shortcomings of those around us because we will miss what makes us great. What makes you great? What makes you - you?  

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