Adulting is hard. Not “level two of Mario Bros.”-hard, more like “starting off on level one and moving on to the next board in a completely different game blindfolded”-hard. Adulthood is literally as scary and confusing as your teenage years were, but with the fear of failing and living under a bridge ramped up to 1000. Life’s hard.
In the midst of this confusion, you spend many of your years, teaching yourself about yourself. You do what you have to do to make it from one day to the next while doing your best not to sacrifice a part of your soul in the process. You can choose happiness and freedom, but you also have to consider the tradeoffs of life.
I struggle with these concepts every few years. People talk about mid-life crises. I’ve had them every year since I was fifteen. What I am going to do with my life? Am I making the right choices? Did I make the right choices? Do I turn back? Do I give up? At the end, it all boils down to me having crippling anxiety from lacking personal direction or pathway.
My personal weakness has been trying to find control. I understand that the world is chaotic and uncontrollable, so the best thing I can do is control myself. But, that completely contradicts the concepts of mental illness, sociopolitical economic systems, and just the fluid nature of identity. Who am I is a hard question to answer because it assumes a finite answer. We change, grow, and evolve, often not the same from one moment to the next.
In the midst of our change, we find things to ground ourselves with. Some people look for family, friends, heritage, God, and vocation. I’ve been caught looking in all and none from time to time. Now, I am purposely picking my own identity as I gain comfort in my own skin. I find myself looking at the essence of who I am beyond what society defines me as. As I peel back my layers, I learn what I enjoy and new ways to explain it. So, who am I? I found out that values and desires make me who I am more than anything else.
I am not simply a black man in America. I am not simply a student. I am not simply a result of the environment I grew up in. I am not simply a musician or writer or artist. I am more than a politician or poet. I am more than a philosopher or professor. I am not a number, statistic, or cog in a machine. I am not a pawn or soldier. I am more than words can describe. I am not even complete yet.
I am a child of God. I am someone who seeks to bring peace wherever I go. I am someone that enjoys the stories and moments shared with others. I am an idealist that seeks connection to something deeper than myself. I patiently await those moments as I truly fall in love with life. I love love. I love the experiences and expressions of self that take form in art or a warm summer afternoon. It fills my belly with hope and my heart with thanks. I await to cherish the tears and the smiles, the pain and the pleasure, and all of the in betweens of life. I am a spontaneous and free.
At the same time, I am grounded. I am a fighter. I am discontent with the broken and would easily spend time mending. I see the brighter future ahead while holding the past and present accountable. I hate injustice. I hate fear and foolishness. I am fiercely protective of those that cannot protect themselves and those that wish to be protected. I am a clay that has been and will continue to be molded into something better than yesterday. I am a child of God. I am infinite.
Who are you?