I have been feeling very overwhelmed and unsettled lately.
Nothing in particular has uprooted me. Very little academic stress, no recent major life transitions – but something is digging at my roots. It feels as though I’m in the process of shedding a skin I no longer need, but certain pieces keep snagging on what’s underneath, on my scars and carefully concealed blemishes.
Fears are reemerging. Doubts are rising. A hyper self-awareness and self-criticism I worked so hard to silence is trying to escape its dormancy. Others’ opinions and perceptions, a desire for their validation, and a consuming fear of criticism keeps crawling further under my skin, preventing me from shedding it.
Things I spent years suppressing – things I thought I buried – are crawling back into view.
Perhaps this is the nature of being a young 20-something on the verge of entering some semblance of the real world, but it may also be the realization that my identity, the one thing I thought I could control, is actually the one thing I can’t. Who I am – my inner most values and fears – stays with me. I can shed my skin, but I can’t rid myself of the scars underneath.
It’s terrifying to realize you actually have so little control over who you are becoming. But it’s also reassuring – as I embark on this bewildering quest to find out who I am, I will fall and stumble, I will get lost and lose my direction, but I will never lose myself.
I spent years trying to control my identity, to shape and mold my deepest core. I sought to fill a void with titles and the preconceptions that come with them. I was searching for a way to mask my insecurities and gain other’s acceptance by hiding behind my latest skin.
It was easy to conceal my fears and flaws behind this curtain. I thought that by being a triathlete I would appear healthy and fit, despite the incessant internal criticism and torment. I thought I could end my battle with the mirror and scale by achieving this persona, by becoming this image of the person I wanted to be.
But it turned out she wasn’t who I needed to be. Donning this skin didn’t make me any happier. It didn’t free me of my consuming doubts and insecurities. It didn’t heal my blemishes. It just added another layer of concealer.
I do not need a qualifier or title. I do not need a curtain to hide behind. I need the woman behind this skin – with her blemishes and scars, her insecurities and intuitions, her mistakes and triumphs – she is enough. I am enough.
Who I am right now, in this moment, is exactly who I need to be.