shortly after i got to college, i found myself having a bit of an identity crisis.
during my senior year of high school, if you had asked me something like “liz, who are you?”, i would have answered something along the lines of: i’m a violinist, a pianist, a flutist; i’m co-captain of the flag corps in marching band; i’m in mys and gpac; i’m co-secretary of nhs and secretary of international thespian society; i do fps, and my team was state champion two years in a row (the only team to ever do that in michigan), and we came in 4th and 2nd in the international conferences that we competed in; i lead a small group at a church and sing in the worship band; i have a *.** gpa and i got a **** on my sat and a ** on my act. looking back, i never used adjectives to describe myself, only nouns. my identity rested entirely in the things that i did and the things i achieved.
that all went to crap when i got to college and none of these things were no longer true for me. i no longer did any of these activities, and the achievements didn’t matter anymore; so who was i apart from these things? i spent the first few weeks feeling a little bit lost and a little bit unsure of myself. (probably more than a little bit, actually, but it’s all faded in my memory.) i think that’s why freshmen try so hard to fit in during their first few weeks of college; they’re looking for something, anything, to put their identity in now that they’re in a completely new place with completely new people.
my freshman year of college, i learned that my identity can be found only in Jesus Christ, for only He is unchanging and unfailing.
my sophomore year of college, i learned how much of my identity i had latently put in my appearance and my weight, after both had gone to pieces. that was arguably the longest, most difficult struggle i’ve ever gone through.
at the end of my junior year of college, i started describing myself in adjectives. or descriptive characteristics, at least. extroverted. perfectionist. people-pleaser. independent. proud. talkative. afraid of failure. afraid of being misunderstood. organized. headstrong. outgoing. procrastinator. to name just a few. this may sound really cliché, but to recognize these things about myself, to realize what i was like as a person and to definitively be able to make such statements… there was something kind of amazing about it. i could know myself. that helped me understand my identity better, too.
another identity crisis started when i left ann arbor. i don’t know what it was -– perhaps the massive amounts of crap that i’d accumulated and realizing how much of it i didn’t need or care about -– but i started evaluating everything i knew about myself. do i really like this music? do i really consider these people to be my friends? i started cleaning out different parts of my life the way i was cleaning out my apartment. i deleted numbers i never used out of my cellphone. i got rid of old cds i never listen to anymore. i looked at my lists of favorites and thought about if i still liked these things anymore.
the identity crisis took another turn when i got back from california. coming back and realizing that i was leaving everything i knew -– who am i? who am i going to be come? it’s a little easier this time, because of all the previous crises. i know that my identity is ultimately in Christ and in Christ alone, and i have a much better sense of who i am as a person than i did when i started college. but inevitably, you do find some of your identity in the people and places around you and the things you do. i won’t be serving at oasis anymore. i won’t be directly involved in ccf anymore. i won’t be the designated ann arbor restaurant connoisseur anymore. who will i be in california? what will my life be like? will i be the same there as i am here, or is who i am right now simply a product of my circumstances?
it’ll be an interesting transition, i think. i expect this identity crisis to peak again once i move. but in the meantime, i take great comfort in knowing that God is God, that He’s the same in california as He is here, and ultimately my identity is found only in Him. the rest is merely detail.
** thanks to ann scharnhorst, whose most recent xanga entry inspired me to write all of this down.