Ask me how I identify and I will tell you I am white noise on a television screen.
Story by Lauren Weik
My yoga teacher gives the class this question to ponder: "who are you?" I have an internal panic attack while everyone else lays in corpse pose. “I don’t know who I am," I panic. In this moment, I am supposed to feel relaxed, but all I can think about is how far away I feel from myself.
The night before I moved away from home, I sat by the window in my childhood bedroom. Like many nights before, I stared out at purple moonlight slapped over dancing geraniums. I felt so scared, so anxious that I crawled into my mother’s warm bed, and asked, tears running down my blotchy face, “How did I get to be this old?”
I always felt I had a strong sense of my individual identity when I lived with my family, yet moving to college forced me to evolve in new ways I had never expected. Away from my mother and father, I felt pushed to become my own mother. Away from my familial belief system, I began to question everything I had ever known and see my parents as human beings.
Looking back, this all makes sense to me. People do this weird thing called assimilation to fit in with the world around us. Becoming like our surroundings is also a survival technique embedded instinctually into our modes of being. People become versions of the people surrounding them, so it makes sense that living with my family truly made me feel all my actions and beliefs were right. However, the beliefs and decisions that resonate with my view of the world, not my mother’s and father’s, create my own individual identity.
Straying away from the belief system that I grew up with felt scary and wrong at times, but ultimately it gave me the freedom to create an identity of my own. Still, I often pressure myself to know who I am completely. However, this does not take into account that I am constantly changing and getting to know myself as I do new things. I found letting go of any preconceived notions of who I should be gave me a whole lot of freedom to be who I undeniably am.
At nineteen, vulnerability and fear are easy isolators. This age feels raw and messy, like walking into a dark forest with your eyes closed. During this time, we are not exactly sure about ourselves or if the decisions we are making are the right ones. But maybe that is the point.
Perhaps we are in pursuit of ourselves, and we just have to filter out what we want versus what the people around us want. It is okay to be different, to do something different, ultimately that is how you will find yourself.