Just as you need time to be able to remain the same and be identified as yourself, you also need time to be able to change, which is where your identity suddenly gets less stable. That is why, even as your hair turns gray, you have the same glint in your eye that your mom would recognize from when you were a child.
– Robert Rowland Smith (Breakfast with Socrates, p. 31)
Once, while sitting at an old diner, drinking coffee with a few girls, trying to be more grown up than I was, I remember meeting a woman there that had what I wanted: independence and a sense of who she was and what she needed to do to be who she wanted to be. I had very little, if any, of what she possessed.
Was I independent? Sure, in a very fuck-you-kind-of-way. Did I know who I was? No, not at all, but I wrapped myself in labels so tight that I could barely move or breathe. Did I know what I needed to do to be who I wanted to be? No, but I also didn’t know who I wanted to be. The one thing I did know was that I didn’t want anything that I had.
It’s taken time for me to identify myself, find me in the mess I hid myself in, the mess that was practically suffocating the life right out of my being. And for a little while, before I was able to change, I had to have time enough to “remain the same”, to truly get to know who I was before I knew who I might want to be.
And then the change that was required to implent the new me took time. There’s a certain level of patience and persistence that is demanded to implent changes, and I have to be willing to sit in the uncomfortableness of what’s needed to do different and be different, for those changes to stick.
This pausing and staying the same for awhile and then moving forward with change is an ever ebb and flow of my life, one that I’m grateful to know I can do and that I want to do. I’m honored to accept such a gift, because I see the world and sometimes there is an urgent fear to stay the same and stall time to the point of never changing, never evolving, and yet, as we all know the clock keeps ticking and time keeps moving. Are we moving with it, ebbing and flowing, changing and identifiying?
One would think this ebb and flow happens over years, and it does, but underlying that yearly factor is the day-to-day transformation that happens if I’m somewhat aware and willing to open my eyes to see it. To identify who I am, there is a reckoning that occurs, like a coming-to-Jesus moment, where I’m open and clear enough to see the woman in the mirror that stares back at me.
And to truly be able to identify her (me) I need to stop and look, listen and observe, take her in, every part of her, even the pieces I don’t like, especially those pieces it seems. It’s important for me to see what’s good about her too though, her assets and strengths, her progress and hope. Balancing all that out, sifting through it, setting aside what needs to be changed and nurturing what’s already worth a million stars and good jobs takes time. Each day is made of time. Moments and seconds for me to identify me, as I am, here in this moment.
And then I can turn my focus on my set-aside pile, where I put all the behaviors and quirks and judgments and criticisms and fears that I collected about myself, and I can assess how I change them or better them or, maybe, completely get rid of them. Only then do I begin to act as if the courage to change is there, and, believe me, I need all the courage I can find, because changing is hard. Changing requires effort and commitment, humility and unbelievable vulnerability.
There are days when I believe I can’t take a step forward, but that’s what’s required. That’s what’s needed for progress to commence and hope to survive, so I step forward with what needs to be done, today. Easy? No. Quick and painless? Hell no. Once again, time is needed, along with persistent practice for every switchback of life to identify and, ultimately, implement change. Are the results worth it? Oh my goodness, yes indeed.
How are you identifying and changing today?