Friday, February 15, 2013

Back in America: On the Transition of my Identity

I've been writing about transitioning to back to different foods, new friends, and old place.  Here I'm going to talk about the transition of my identity that has been necessitated by my move back from Korea.

First, I must say that, as a Christian, my identity is secure in Christ.  I believe that I have been created with God's divine inspirational for specific and thoughtfully orchestrated purposes.  I believe that the pieces of who I am have been carefully selected by a Creator who knows exactly what He's doing.  I believe that He delights in me, and that I am intrinsically valuable because I am His.  (I also believe the same thing about you.)

Second, I must say that I don't always act like I believe those things.

Third, I will confess that in the last 3 years, I've noticed a lot more insecurity in myself than I ever knew was there.  This stems from not being solid and strong in knowing that my identity stands in Jesus.

I'm broken, and I know it.  What you're about to read comes from someone working with the symptoms.

I Korea, I was an English teacher.  I was a dancer.  In other circles, I was the Christian.  I was the one who didn't get drunk.  In another, I was the loud one at Bible study.  I was the one sister in a group of dudes.  I was Kid Darkness.

Now, I don't have any of those labels.  I'm not automatically assigned "foreigner" status.  I can't connect with people because they're from the East Coast anymore.  I'm not obviously different from everyone on the subway.  (I don't even take the subway here.)

On one specific point now: In the West, your place in the world, your identity, is closely linked with your occupation.  I don't have anything to say when I'm asked, "So what do you do?"  I don't have a job.  (I don't have children loving me.  I'm not keeping up with my dance...)

I don't know where the lines are, but I think this is connected to the insecurity I wrote about a couple weeks ago.  Ah, wait, here's a line: As is natural, I've been sized up against the standards of society (like when people ask me what my job is), and I stand out as different because I don't have a job (which no one makes a big deal about).  I'm not in the standard of society because I just came from a different kind of position, and everyone I meet understands that and thinks it's fine, but I make a big deal about it in my mind.  I start to fabricate all these thoughts that must be going on in other minds.  No one else is comparing me to society, I do the comparing for them.  No one is telling me I'm less because I don't have a job or because I don't have a role in the community yet, I think that about myself automatically!  What the heck!?

Identity Occupation or lack thereof
Identity ≠ Role in the community
 Yep, we know.
Identity ≠ Popularity
Well, obviously.

It's clear that my goals and my priorities have been misplaced.   Having my perception of myself being forcibly shaken up has brought all of this to the top of the tank and the front of my mind where it's much more difficult to ignore.  These insecurities have always been here, I'm sure, but the serious change that's scattered my mind has shed light on all of this.  I'm thankful to have people around me who help set me back on track, but I am still in the learning process, and it is no fun.  

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