I wrote about ISMs a while ago – Identity, Security, and Meaning. I think we spend our adolescence searching for the identity part especially. I know I’ve always longed for something to be “me.” And while I searched for what those things were, I happened upon them by accident. For instance, I found a love a multi-colored things, Gerber daisies, Casting Crowns, coffee drinks of all kinds, and teaching people about church/theology/Bible/you name it. When I was fifteen, I found myself setting my sights on being a DCE (Director of Christian Education). At the time, my reasoning had to do with rebellion (my dad disliked the profession) and the desire to be involved in ministry in some way. I knew in my heart I wanted to be a pastor’s wife but also knew I couldn’t guarantee that. And while I took a few detours on the career track, I found myself right where I belong, because my greatest passion is teaching in churches. We were up front about me being shy when we visited that church last week, but people didn’t believe it because I could handle speaking to the crowd. I have an easier time speaking in front of people than I do talking with strangers. Truth be told, if I’m in a teaching position, or talking about things I know, I get excited and have no problem. It’s the small talk, trying to come up with something to say that makes me freeze up. I think it’s the same issue as writer’s block, when I can’t think of something to write. And at least with writing I can start with my observations. Speaking that way doesn’t always work, because my observations aren’t always helpful. I’ve been sitting listening to some women at the next table who seem to still be searching for their identities. I can’t tell exactly how old they are but they are probably in their twenties. And I am realizing that one of the things we do in high school and college is test out theories about our identities by presenting them to our friends and seeing how they react. Their conversation about guys and tattoos and coffee seems to be just that, testing possible identities.
I don’t remember when I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what others think of me, and I know I still struggle with this in certain ways, but at some point I chose my preferences based on what I like, not what I thought others think I should like. And I love knowing that some of my preferences are shared with my sister. She loves multi-colored things as well. In fact, when she got married, the bridesmaids all wore black dresses, but the flowers were different colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple (green in the leaves). Each girl carried a different color, which corresponded to the flower worn by her accompanying usher/groomsman. And her bouquet had all of the flowers in it. We decorated the reception hall with multi-colored Christmas lights. And now I have dishes in every color of the rainbow, one set of each color, and I love to mix and match. If I knew how to do my own background on this blog, I’d just want a white background with a row of various-colored Gerber daisies across the top. Not just the usual red, orange, and pink tones, but even blues and greens. And maybe a cup of coffee.
The tough thing for me is that while I can reveal a lot of myself in writing, I have a hard time opening up to others in conversation about myself, even the fact that I love to write. So when I was asked by a few folks last week about what I like to do, I hemmed and hawed. Why is it so hard to talk about what I love? That’s when I get shy about my identity.