Friday, May 24, 2013

Identities

This post is something I’ve been mulling over since I was a brand new freshman at American.  It’s only appropriate that, as a rising senior, I write it and finally post it now.  Partly, this is motivated by my life experience at AU.  Partly, it’s motivated by living in a house with three entirely different generations.  Partly, it’s motivated by my own life happenings.  


Identity is as fluid as gender or sex.  Your identity will change.  As a brand new freshman I was dealing with no longer having my high school-related identities to cling to.  I was no longer a Murrow student, a yearbook editor, a Research kid.  I didn’t live in New York anymore, so while I am always a native New Yorker, I could no longer call myself a New Yorker on a daily basis.  Yes, many things have stayed the same about my identity since I was born, like my name, and my sex and gender, those for me have not changed.  But name and sex do not an identity make.  They’re distinguishers, not really identifiers.  

As I mentioned, I also recently ended a very long term relationship.  That was a big part of my identity for over four years, and negotiating not being a girlfriend is very different from my previous identity.  I haven’t been single since I was sixteen.  So I’m negotiating who I am all over again.  

My identifiers are many, and they’re vast.  I always start with Jeanni, because it’s the part of my name that I decided.  My parents named me Jean, and they nicknamed me Jeannie when I was a baby, but when I was twelve I decided that Jeanni just felt more me.  And I still think it does.  It’s adapted with me though, from a sarcastic, angry twelve-year-old, to a sassy, type-A young woman.  

I realized a while ago that I no longer knew who I was, and that as I was about to leave college I needed to figure that out.  I know a lot of people say you don’t figure that out until your thirties, but as previously mentioned many times on here I really hate being on time; I always have to be early.  So last night I started making a “Personal Map” which is sort of like the graphic organizers you used back in elementary school.  I started with my name in the center and just wrote things I like, things I want, things I love, ways I identify myself.  Everything from “Purple” and “Zebras” to “Leo” and “Monograms” to “Museums” and “Stær” is on there.  (Stær means both story and history in Old English).  

My identity is complicated and full of contradictions and juxtapositions.  I’m Jeanni; I’m a blogger; I’m a Phi Sig Pi; I’m a historian; I’m a friend; I’m a writer; I’m a country music fan; I’m a shoe aficionado (though frequently barefoot).  I’m many things, and I’ll be more throughout
my life.  So are you, and so will you.

I’m not really “done” with the Me Map, but I think I’m as done as I can be for now.  Will I ever be done figuring out who I am?  I doubt it.  But I should have a solid idea of who I am right now, and I’m working on that. I encourage you all, especially those of you who, like me, have been in very long term relationships, to really think about the person that you are and the person that you want to become.  After all, we become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become.  

(in case you didn't know, gray and yellow is one of my favorite color pallets)
(click through for a full-sized, high resolution version for your own desktop!)


Stay Tuned.

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