A Girl Finding Her Identity

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When I was young- probably 9 or so- my cousin called me selfish.  Yet to explore any sort of self discovery or identity, I was shocked.

This stuck with me for years, and later I began to show many behaviors that were selfish.  I continually told myself I was misunderstood, different, and unloved.  I began to doubt myself and who I was as a person.

Where did I fit in this world?

I faked sick on family holidays and refused to believe I belonged.  I detached from the people who loved me the most, unaware how important family and my roots were.  I was antisocial, confused, and misunderstood.  How could anyone understand me if I couldn’t even understand myself?

On a 9th grade trip to the Birch Run outlets with my mom, I remember picking out a sleek dark purple jacket at Ralph Lauren.  I felt like a star.

Upon returning to Traverse City, I pranced around downtown, running errands with my mom wearing my black Express pants, envisioning myself in a place like Chicago or even New York City.  I dreamed of being somewhere different- somewhere no one knew my name.

Somewhere along the way I started to identify as the “black sheep.”

I didn’t know who I was at age 15, but I was certain I didn’t belong in Michigan.

As I went on to college, making new friends and seeking the approval of fraternity boys (some of which I’m still friends with today), I was lost in a sea of vodka and $1 beer. I did whatever I could to find love, but most of all, acceptance.

My drinking began to get out of control, and so did my self respect.  After college, I moved in with an older boyfriend who I later got engaged to.  I thought this relationship would save me from the all-nighters and my bad behavior- which it did, for about a year.  Then, I gave back my Princess cut diamond and took off to San Francisco.

I did the cities- 7 in all.  I worked in fashion.  I considered law school.  I did the startup thing.  I had no idea what I wanted, so I kept running from myself- only to find myself right back where I came from 12 years later.

As an adult, I’m aware I’m still a little selfish- and now, it’s okay.  This kind of selfishness is self-care, which at the core isn’t selfish at all.

The difference today is that I know how to set boundaries, but also to welcome the love that surrounds me.  My identity was never lost- I needed to mistakes, try things out, and move around to truly learn who I am as a person- and that being myself was all I ever needed all along.

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Home is Where the Heart Is

As I drank my morning coffee, James Taylor came on my iTunes.  Reminding me of a note I scribbled on my boarding pass, these lyrics spoke to me:

You can play the game,
You can act out the part,
Though you know it wasn’t written for you.
Tell me how can you stand there with your broken heart,
Ashamed to playin’ a fool?

I gave Boston everything I had- I reached deep into my soul looking to find home in the city, not realizing I had been avoiding love from those who mattered most: my family and friends in Michigan.

You can run but you cannot hide,
This is widely known,
Now what you plan to do
with your foolish pride,
when you’re all by yourself alone?

Today, I no longer have to hide in a big city, put on a facade, or be alone.

I have been showered with love, and since I finally am learning to accept that love, I am showering the people with my love, too.

Shower the people you love with love,
Show them the way you feel,
Things are gonna be much better, if you only will.

Acceptance is the Answer to All My Problems

Being tolerant is really tough.

I can’t lie- it’s my natural state to isolate or avoid people I don’t like.  When I’m in a situation that isn’t pleasant, I usually find a way to change it.

Why else do you think I’ve moved so many times these past 11 years?

(In case you didn’t know, it’s a lot- I’ve lived in 7 different states and in seemingly endless apartments.)

Today I am learning to accept things as they are.  I don’t have to like them, but I do need to learn a new way of thinking in order to be content.

My first reaction to an unpleasant person or situation is to run away, but I don’t have to do that anymore.  Today I am free to just be.

It might be uncomfortable, but it’s a relief to know that I don’t have to run away.