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Who am I?

May 23, 2013

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For months now, I’ve been having dreams about buying clothes. I’m in the store, trying to find something that feels right for me. Is it a sleek cardigan, a wide linen shirt with blue stitching? A dress? And which beautiful earrings should I choose to go with it? There are so many—silver and gold, small amber gems, blue stones, dangling ones and posts.

I realize that these dreams are about searching for my identity, trying to figure out how to define myself. Am I my livelihood? In American culture, we tend to think that we are what we do, but that is so limiting. There are plenty of people who have jobs they hate, or jobs they mildly enjoy, or jobs they really enjoy. But we are all more than our jobs. I’ve been and still am a teacher, but that’s not all I am. I’ve been and still am an editor, but that shouldn’t define the whole of me.

Am I my relationships to other people? A mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister. A blogger?

Am I my aspirations? Am I my religious affiliation? Does what I read say something about who I am, or what I eat?

Small children are unencumbered by these definitions. They are curious; they explore. They are drawn to one toy on Monday, other toys throughout the week. A walk around the block can be a transformative experience. They tell you what they like and what they don’t like, but their preferences tend to change in a matter of minutes.

I’m trying to move into a phase of trying to face the world with new eyes, like a child. I can give yoga some credit for this (although you might be tired of hearing about yoga), but not all of it. The very reason I started yoga teacher training was because these questions were already  stirring inside of me.

I don’t know if I’ll get there, but I’m hoping to continually grow free of social definitions of myself. In turn, I hope that I’ll stop assuming I know or understand another person by such limited definitions. We’re all so eager for a term, a symbol, something that tells everyone, “This is who I am.”

That might help us sometimes, if we want to fit every person into a neat category and say we’ve figured it all out. But no one has figured it all out. No one. Somewhere, deep in my unconscious, I believe that there are people walking on water all over the place, who have made all the right decisions and gone down all the right paths and never made a mistake. And they’re living in a state of constant bliss. 

But a constant state of bliss seems boring. I always knew that the striving, the journey was most important. Those little moments of bliss come unexpectedly, when things are off center or asymmetrical, and yet I’m in touch with a divine force, a gentle weight that lets me see the beauty all around me. They last for a second, for a few minutes. And then they’re gone. Such is the nature of life, of being human.

I’m going to keep searching and trying to remind myself there is not a single treasure to be found——there are many small treasures that probably look completely different from what I expect. The treasures change from time to time, depending on my circumstances, on whatever stage of the path I am on.

And I imagine that one night, instead of dreaming about which clothes I’m going to buy to match this stage of my life, I’ll strip off the ones I already have and run naked and free.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jacqueline Liberati June 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Dear Jana,
I am so inspired by your vbac story. Is there a way we can connect to talk more about it?
Thank your for your strength, grace, and courage in sharing it.
Jackie Liberati

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