So lately I’ve been thinking a lot bout reconciliation.
By this I mean I’ve been considering how to resolve who I think I am, who I really am, and where I live.
Before I came to Kenya I thought I had a pretty clear picture of who I was and what I wanted. I was known for my sarcasm, a bitter wit, I didn’t like kids, there was almost nothing about me you could call conservative and I had a lot to say. I mean honestly did I ever shut up?
So am I still that person? The answer is no. I am definitely not the person I knew 5 months ago. But now I’m not sure who I am or what I stand for.
The reason this distresses me and I have spent so much time thinking about this is because I kinda liked the person I was. I liked the image I had of myself as a tough sarcastic in your face kind of girl who dressed how she wanted and did what she liked. I was pretty invested in the image I had made for myself.
On the other hand I like this me too. I like this quieter more thoughtful sincere version of myself. I like the work I do, I like hanging out with the women at church, I like doing some simple labors, and I will admit it- Betty Friedan forgive me- I even like cooking for my boyfriend.
So how do I bring these two self’s together? Sometimes the harder version of myself comes out whether or not I like it like when I push a guy down for grabbing at me or tell someone bothering me to fuck off. And I can’t deny that I have some very sarcastic and blasphemous thoughts in church- in the church painting Mother Mary has her eye brow raised like even she can’t believe what’s going on in church.
Now that I have decided to move here permanently I have been forced to consider what things and what’s really important to me nowadays.
An example of this is my Judaism. I mean any one who knew me would tell you I was never a religious person or in touch with my “Jewish Soul” but that was when I was in a Jewish community and I never really had my “jewishness” questioned. Recently I have felt my Judaism under attack and discovered that a lot of my identity is rooted in this faith and that this history is incredibly important and meaningful to me. Maybe my faith isn’t under attack, people have pretty much stopped trying to convert me, but it is not understood (case in point trying to explain the event as well as the significance of the Holocaust to Wilson yesterday)
But on a baser level I struggle with my identity as a “sweet girl” here. I mean sweet? I don’t think anyone has ever used that adjective on me before. I like being a sweet girl but the not so sweet part of me rages against this identity.
I feel quite empty now a days. Not like a painful empty but a noticeable absence of understanding is constant.
When I was in the third grade we all had to do space reports. I did one on sputnik, a Russian satellite, which wasn’t that interesting. The reason I remember this report is because of a space encyclopedia I looked at for the project. The book had a sort of fold out map that outspread to show the 9 planets in an attempt at a scale picture. That night at home I went outside and looked at the night sky and realized how big the universe was. As I pictured the nine, I guess now eight, planets and the billions of stars and the trillions of molecules I felt small. I didn’t feel small in a bad way but in a way that let me know I was a minor component in something much bigger then myself. I felt how little I really knew and how big the world was and how ignorant I was to so much of what was around me. It wasn’t unpleasant but it was sort of…jarring.
That’s the feeling I have now, except turned inwards. It’s as if inside of me has become an empty space I have suddenly become aware of and I don’t fit quite right in my skin anymore. It’s slightly uncomfortable.
I mean I worked really hard to become the person I was, and now that feels useless but maybe that is just a part of growing up?
Or maybe I never really knew myself. Maybe we are incapable of seeing ourselves in any sort of clear light and only others can truly know us.
Or maybe we are just so moldable and changeable that there is no true self but a constantly in motion and changing core acted upon by the environment. Perhaps there is no self for me to know.
And, finally, perhaps it doesn’t matter one way or the other. If I just keep moving forward and making myself happy and moving in the direction I want then there is nothing to reconcile. There is just a love of life to embrace, and a love of people to be enfolded in.
There is no need to struggle for my identity because it will constantly change. I am not the person I was 5 years ago, or 6 months ago, and I will not be this person in a few short years. Maybe this constant struggle for identity is what keeps people from moving forward, and if we allow ourselves to be more fluid we can become people and do things we never imagined.
I mean if I wasn’t fluid minded then I would never have ended up on a catholic mission. I might have ended up somewhere else and still have been happy, but I wouldn’t have this happiness, and I really like this happiness.
So I guess I should stop struggling for who I am because parts of it will be created for me- let’s not kid ourselves for the next couple years I will probably be known as “the white chick” or “the American” or in the community of dancers I’m being introduced to “Wilson’s girlfriend” which is weirdly the one that bothers me the most- but other parts I will create myself and those parts will grow and change my whole life. I kind of feel like if I find a stagnant identity then it means I’m dead, because the only part of my life I want stagnant is my death but that’s only cause there isn’t much choice there.
So I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to be like water. Water changes shape to whatever container it is in but it is still constantly water. So that sounds like a plan.
Anyway I am home in 49 days!
see ya’ll at the airport?