Samantha’s note: This is the big weekend for the women’s event which has been awesome so far. Because of this among other things, I knew I needed some people to help write some of this month’s posts. I am SO glad I had a reason to ask for some guest posts as I am loving the depth that they bring. Emily is a friend of mine from the Midwest who shares some of the real in her life and while hard, it’s beautiful. I love her writing style and think you will, too. She asks all the questions and sorts through all the thoughts and feelings many of us have but don’t all want to own up to. I wish we lived closer but for now, we’ll have to settle for swapping stories on one another’s blogs.
Before sitting down the write this post, I questioned my authority on finding self, and if I have the right, as an unemployed, confused 25-year-old to shed light on something so profound and deep as self. Before we go any further I should confess something—I’m not sure I’ve actually found myself yet.
I come from a long line of selves built in chaos, in quicksand. My family is no stranger to tragedy—my mother suffered through two funerals (her sister’s and her father’s) during her pregnancy with me—we take emotional blows like seasoned boxers. We roll back our shoulders, and stand up for more hits. My own parents are both deceased. I lost my father in a plane crash when I was thirteen, and my mother to melanoma three years ago. Self has always confused me, a concept that begs to be concrete in my quicksand world. Is my self the girl with parents? Is she some alternate path I wasn’t allowed to take, some unreachable, whole person? Is she who I am supposed to be if (insert tragedy here) didn’t happen?
If you’ve experienced any kind of loss, you know one of its painful truths—it finds new ways to surprise you. Whether it’s hearing an old song that reminds you of them, seeing a car pulled over and for a fleeting moment needing to know they’re ok, or wanting to share new experiences with your loved one and realizing that they won’t pick up when you call; loss and sorrow seem to always reinvent themselves in small ways.
For me, I never anticipated the terror of becoming an adult on my own. I never expected to think, three years after losing my mother, that I should call her to ask how long to bake a potato. To need her to tell me that job hunting is difficult, but that there is some merit in trying, and that I am worthwhile. I never thought about the strange mourning that comes in realizing you will never experience your parents as peers, as equals. How strange it is to look through old photos of my parents, grinning in the way that 20-somethings do when friends snap their pictures—as though the whole world is at their feet. The unfairness of growing up, of realizing who I am and who I want to be, I can never share with them.
I say I don’t know if I’ve found self yet because I haven’t quite had it affirmed. I am a set of trials and errors, missteps and mistakes, and miles of backtracking. I am blessed to have grown my self through the help of remarkable friends, and the outpouring of love from my extended family. My three best friends are my siblings, and I am so lucky to have their guidance and support in my life. Despite feeling partial and broken, these people have filled in the gaps, pressing themselves into my growth like sunshine. My confidence (albeit not 100%, but strong) in this self I have built is their gift to me, and it is their love that helps it to grow.
I am not confident I have found self yet. I cannot help but look back on my life without the “what ifs.” What if I had time with my mother to apologize? What if I had time with my father to discover our views (conflicting or complimentary, I don’t know) on gender, and race, and sexuality? Would I be a more whole self? Would I feel more confident in this girl? Or is the pressing forward, the pursuit of wholeness still worthwhile? Is the striving I do to find my adult self, my future self, my multifaceted me still noble? Will I ever feel like I have truly found her?
I have not found myself yet. I don’t know if I will ever be confident enough to say I have found her, become her, until the end of the line. But the decisions that I make along the way, the actions that must feed the act of becoming her, are my focus now. I have not found self yet, but I am content in the maze. I am content in the pursuit of discovering her, of chasing her through the storms.
Emily is a blogger and video blogger based in Minneapolis, MN. She currently runs the blog Staving Off Disaster, where she admits to the embarrassments and mistakes of attempting adulthood. In her free time she pretends she’s a novelist, and trolls the “writing jobs” section of monster.com.
This post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October. To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.