Recently, I’ve been doing a complete overhaul of my apartment, sorting my things and getting rid of items that are just clogging up my space. And then I decided to attempt to sort my years of photos, all stashed in boxes and albums. Eventually, I came across this photo of me from about five years ago. In a way, she is a totally different person from who I am now. I had just started at a new job in the military, I was missing my creative life and I was feeling very lonely, having just moved away from my family for the first time. This girl is nervous, excited, and energetic. It wasn’t so long ago, but this girls feels so very young to me.
My recent job change has led to some serious analysis of who I am, as I ponder what it is that I contribute to the world. What is my identity? Who am I? So as I peer through pictures of my childhood and then ones from my not-s0-distant past, I’ve been trying to answer all of these questions. I figure we can only realize who we are by looking at who we once were.
For a long time, the only identity that I allowed myself to relate to was that of author. I wanted to write since I was six years old (corny and cliché, but true) and so I allowed that role to consume me. So much so, that I almost missed out on my opportunity to join the military, simply because I was convinced that it wasn’t the life I was meant to lead. And then once I enrolled, I became so entrenched in the military lifestyle that I couldn’t imagine myself as anything other than a soldier. When suddenly stripped of that identity, I felt lost and because of this, I have spent the last six months since my release desperately searching for my lot in life. I couldn’t be “just” writer, could I?
Alas (yes, I just said “alas”), my soldier and writer identities are one in the same. Without my military experience, I would never have found my initial writing niche, which has led to many lucrative writing contracts. Without my time in the forces, I wouldn’t have developed such an amazing work ethic that is vital in the freelance writing world. Most of all, I wouldn’t have discovered all of my strengths and weaknesses and learned how to parlay those into a successful writing business that brings me such joy, I can’t ever imagine how I turned my back on my writer side for all those years. This girl here, she is a part soldier, part writer, part friend and part daughter. She knows who she is. She laughs a lot. She is happy.
I’m sure you’re all wondering how this relates to yoga, but really, I don’t know if I ever would have come to these conclusions without my yoga practice. Part of meditation and yoga is learning to love yourself for who you are, getting in touch with your true self. Without yoga, I wouldn’t have gotten this far. I would still be wrestling with all of my different parts, desperate to somehow link them all together.
The moral of this story is this: As your life roles ebb and flow, don’t fight against them: Embrace them. Accept all of the new parts that make you who you are. Too often, we obsess about the identities that society places on us, be it parent or spouse, employee or student, writer or soldier. All of the talents, characteristics and experiences that comprise your soul can co-exist; you don’t have to be one or the other. Don’t let the world tell you who you are. Figure it out for yourself and refuse to label it.