“Should I wear fake lashes to pool parties?” Of course. “Things to say on Tinder” Oh good.
“These are exactly the terms I had hoped would lead people to the blog,” I thought as I dug through Google Analytics. As I scrolled through the list, I realized that another top search term was “story of my life annie.” It felt like time to finally write an About page for the new site. However, if I had to be honest with myself, over the past couple months, I haven’t felt like myself. It begged the question: “Who is Annie?” Did I still know what I was all about? Or had I lost myself?
There are a few things that can trigger an identity crisis, and I was 3 for 3.
Breakups, friends moving and losing family can all signal the feeling of losing not just another person but the loss of part of you. Though I was fortunate that none of these were necessarily the case, the residual effects of the When Longtime Feelings Aren’t Mutual material has still left an invisible elephant that inhabits my mutual surroundings with the guy friend I confessed my feelings to nearly daily. I hadn’t realized how much of my identity I had built around him – in who he has helped me become and who I hoped I was to him. It’s taken a great bit of self-confidence to feel capable and desirable in his presence, and now and then, it feels like too much for me to maintain.
Our environment certainly shapes our habits from familiar running paths to gas stations and grocery stores. The neighborhood joint where you were once welcomed by name is no longer convenient, and your bed can even feel different: “Was it always this big?” Not to mention, I threw away/donated half of my belongings as part of the move from my TV to my sorority shirts. Bits of Annie now belonged to friends and Goodwill.
Spending a majority of our lives at work, it’s no surprise that our careers become synonymous with our identity. Shortly after meeting someone, your occupation follows closely behind your name, as if one cannot exist without the other. When we lose our job or change companies, it feels like your character has been fundamentally altered. While sunsetting my card company in favor for a full-on blog was the right move for many reasons, a part of me was redirected right along with the website traffic.
None of these are things are Earth shattering in isolation, but being a girl who can feel like a new person simply by parting her hair in the middle, it left me with a feeling of self-doubt. The events of the past couple months had been a catalyst to a series of changes in my appearance. When I was once known for my colorful wardrobe, I changed to all black, white and gray for an easier, more monochromatic look. My wavy hair extensions and staple eyeshadow set have been swapped out for short, straight hair and barely-there makeup. As autumn, pumpkin goodies and seasonal depression approached it was apparent that the weather wasn’t the only thing changing.
Loss vs. Change
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure where to go with this blog post. Though I have many friends currently facing the same type of uncertainty, I didn’t know what advice I could give. Lying in bed last night, I slowly read through the last remaining pages of East of Eden, soaking up every word. When Lee, the paid servant of the household, has a hard time coming to grips with news that would re-shape the family, he picks up The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius:
Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the universe loves nothing so much as to change things which are and to make new things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.
Well, thank you, Marcus. At 10 p.m. at night I found myself highlighting and grinning at what this Roman Emperor wrote almost 2,000 years ago in 160 AD. It was the insight that I needed.
In the same way that I’m learning to live with the fact that the seasons are out of my control, I must embrace the fact that dynamic forces will continually mold me as a person – and you as well. We will always feel a little off and shifts in identity will be an inevitable part of the story of our lives, a theme that exists from start to finish.
However, we do have control over something: the seeds of that which will be. After all, Marcus said “new things like them.” Just because I’m living in the shadow of rejection with my guy friend, I can’t let that grow into future self-doubt. Similarly, while I disposed of many identifying belongings in my recent move, it’s paving the way for future baggage-free adventures. And while it’s scary to have let go of my last website without any direction as to what The Story of My Life blog will become, there is relief in knowing that I don’t need to know. I simply need to sow the seeds that feel right at the time and let the universe do what it loves most.
As I sit down to the write the About page of The Story of My Life, I realize that what I write to describe myself is not inscribed in stone. However, as I read over the content from the last About Annie page written a couple years ago, I was reminded of a vital piece of me that has not been lost. Though location, relationship status and a Hello Kitty obsession can change, some things are your roots that grow deeper and deeper as you blossom. The last two lines are mine.
I believe in taking time to make yourself happy and just as much time bringing joy to others. Life is simply too short to do anything otherwise.