I’m Not Sure How to Be Who I Am
Welcome to my mid-life existential crisis.
I have worked very hard to grow into the person that I am. To be okay with my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I dig me. The hard part? I don’t know what that looks like outside of my body.
I have a tremendous admiration for people that are who they are on the outside in a way that allows you to truly immerse yourself in being with them. Their external expression of themselves completely represents their internal self.
Contrary to every intention I have to do so, I have hit mid-life with no idea how to express myself outside of my thoughts. I’m not happy about it.
Criticism falls hard on me. It doesn’t even have to be directed at me. I’m an empath. If I hear someone else criticized, I feel it. I keep it. I have lived a lot of my 45 years doing whatever I can to avoid criticism. I have walked the center of the road as much as possible. Lean too much to one side and someone is bound to be unhappy about it.
The result? A lack of sense of physical self. I don’t even know how to begin to fix it. I have the ideas but making them happen takes courage I haven’t mustered up yet.
This is not my beautiful house.
This week, a friend came to my house for the first time. We haven’t known each other long but have had hours of conversation on a level that I don’t know that I get to often.
He told me my house doesn’t reflect the depth of my character. I had no idea what to do with that. I stumbled and staggered over the comment. It derailed me.
My initial reaction was defensiveness and deflection. My house is definitely filled with some serious Hobby Lobby level bullshit. I just don’t know anything else. I never felt like breaking out of that was okay. Like we are all supposed to have Hobby Lobby bullshit.
Yes, there is some beautiful parts of this house that are so intrinsically me. The shelves I built. The vast amount books all over the place. The paintings I made. But they are held inside a cookie cutter, white, suburban, beige stucco house that doesn’t fit me.
What I want is a funky, old, historical house where I can paint the ceiling of the front porch turquoise and not give two shits what anyone thinks.
What the hell do I do for a living?
I’m not sure what to tell people I do for a living. I have very solid day job in a career I’ve had for almost 20 years. I have seen great success and earned a lot of respect for it. I make good money. Still, it doesn’t seem like who I am. It’s not my soul.
I feel like a writer. I make good money as writer, too. I have only once answered to a stranger that I am a writer when they asked what I did. It felt beautifully liberating and at the same time, gave me a weird anxious feeling.
It feels like I’m playing make-believe when I say I’m a writer.
It’s hard to explain to people, when you tell them that you’re a writer, that you have to go to an office and sit there for eight hours. It invalidates that you’re actually a writer.
Interestingly, when people find out that I am a writer it in no way invalidates my perfectly mainstream 9 to 5 job. This troubles me and only further pushes me into my comfortable little corner.
Thursday night I sat on my living room floor having a glass or two of wine and overthinking my life. I called my friend because I felt the overwhelming need to talk about his comment on my house. He apologized for offending me.
I told him he didn’t offend me. What he did was give me a gift. He made me think. My house is not a true representation of who I am. The problem in fixing that is that I have no idea what the house that reflects my character looks like, aside from a turquoise front porch ceiling, apparently. The great joy of that? I’m going to find out.