At 23, I had an epiphany about my identity: I am becoming a new person again and again.
It was my last year of college. Since I did not do any homework, I had an endless supply of free time on my hands to think about life. I had been in the same physical place on and off for the past six years, but Amherst still felt strange to me, an uncomfortable constant that was my closest thing to home. A lot had happened since I was 18, and my senior-self felt very detached from my first-year-self.
In between my years on campus, I went to Bible school, studied abroad, and travelled as much as I could. I found my faith and lost it and stumbled back again. I concluded upon my life’s purpose and questioned it. I embraced Asian culture and challenged it. I travelled because I did not want to waste the opportunity to do so and I travelled because I did not want to do anything else. I was passionate and judgmental, carefree and lonely, hopeful and entitled. Each year, I looked back and felt relieved: I am so glad I am not like that anymore.
At 25, I had another epiphany: I am the same person.
The “old” me and “new” me have different beliefs and goals, but they are the same person. At face value, who I was at 23 is completely different from who I was at 24, but remnants of past thoughts and experiences are still present memories within me. The convictions I maintained and aspirations I pursued continue to shape my values and ideas. I might not agree with my previously held opinions, but I would not interpret the world as I do now if I had never seen it from a different perspective.
When I graduated college, I wanted more than anything to live a wanderlustful life, but I also wanted more than anything to be loved. The latter desire was suppressed for years, tucked away under an attractive cloak of spontaneity, transatlantic flights, and faraway lands captured in photographs. I wanted both, and I chose between them. It was a long transition, but I grew to love my life as a wife and the freedom, power, and friendships I never knew I could have. I did not change into a new person; I uncovered roots of the same person I always was.
At 27, I understand more than ever: I am becoming new and I am the same.
As I grow older, I want different things out of life, but there is little change at the core of those desires. They are either hidden until the right time or reinvented time and time again. For example, my 9-year-old obsession with purple roll-on glitter sticks now takes the shape of wanting a nice peach shade of blush, but both stem from the same desire to feel beautiful, and accentuating my cheekbones is a great start.
On a more serious note, my dream of getting yoga certified was hidden until I learned to connect with myself. I did not know how much I had deceived myself until I began to take time and listen to myself, to sit with my emotions and acknowledge what they were telling me. I learned that the deepest longings of my heart are constant, but take on different forms as time goes on.
Pregnancy is the ultimate reality of becoming new while remaining the same.
At 35 weeks, my uterus has grown about 1,000 times its original size and my brain-cell volume has decreased. My body, mind, and emotions will continue to undergo drastic transformation through labor and postpartum, but I will still be 100% me.
At first, it was a big deal for me to consider stepping down from my role as primary breadwinner and be a stay-at-home mom. The prospect seemed foreign and unfulfilling and the antithesis of the successful life. Then I realized this is not an incongruous step I am taking, but completely in line with who I am and what I want. I never had to shift my priority from career to family.
I have always prioritized family over career.
Recalling the pattern of decisions I have made, I see how my profession was never number one. Instead of internships, I spent my undergrad summers volunteering at camp, in large part to work alongside my sister. Instead of trying to get ahead academically and professionally, I took two gap years from college and went to Bible school, the second year again to be with my sister. While we were both students, we spent nearly every school break traveling together and exploring the world.
Family has always been important to me, and I long to be surrounded by those I love. It is why my relationship with my mother continues to hurt, it is why I never want to cut ties with my step-dad, and it is why Noah applied to school in Denver in the first place — for us to be closer to his parents and two youngest siblings. It is why making the decision to support my husband by staying home and caring for our son is an easy one.
Twenty-three feels like a lifetime ago, and I anticipate feeling the same in several years when I reread blog posts and journal entries from my late twenties. I look back and feel very thankful: I am so glad for how much I have grown. I am every year I have ever lived and every person I have ever been, and I am becoming new and becoming myself all the time.
How do you view who you are in light of who you used to be and who you want to be?