Tuesday, January 1, 2019

My 2018 identity crisis, illustrated.

 I usually make a hearty reflection-full post about my growth and goals of the year. Over the last few years, I've wanted to collect more data... which I suppose could sound like a nerdy non-personal way of analyzing a year... but to me data is the opposite. I have a Fit Bit and lots of apps (I just made a post about my favorite fitness apps you can check out) that tell me how long I spend on websites, and how many calories I've supposedly burned in a day. But for me, data is different. There's something wholesome about taking all of these moments, breaths, ideas, steps, etc and somehow condensing them into a yearly trend or new habit. After trying my hand at these electronic apps and gadgets, I've determined that my favorite way of collecting data is through thoughtful reflection at the end of each day. I think one of my greatest accomplishments in 2018 was a) seeing a therapist and b) realizing my therapist was right that I'm in a sort of identity crisis. Looking back at my planner/diary is evidence of my mercurial year, and my affinity for collecting data. For too much of my year, however, this reflective 'data collection' wasn't possible. For much of the year I struggled just to eat, sleep, shower, please people, and navigate the different pulls in my heart and brain. Fortunately, I feel in a steady place, despite all the unknowns ahead of me. And from this steady place, I look back at my 2018 through the graphics I drew. 
Over 15 great days and just two and a half utterly horrible ones. I am blessed. 

The highlights of my year were in my travels. I managed to make it home three times in 2018, once by air and twice by car, and only once for work. Most importantly my boyfriend got to meet the important players of my family, including my 95-year-old grandpa, just a month before he passed away. The memory of them making veteran jokes that none of us understood before my boyfriend dropped an "I'm going to marry your granddaughter" to the shock of my immediate family will stay with me for a long time. 

When your rough draft becomes your final draft
The year was tragically void of trips to Detroit, save one battle with a biased judge in a court that is acting criminally against us. I have received mix support from friends, but if anyone reading this knows a good family lawyer in Michigan HMU. 

The highlight trip was a three-week adventure to the Northwest that allowed me not only to scratch Montana and Idaho off my list, but also experience the lovely towns of Boise and Missoula. 
Highlight of Boise: Vegan BBQ
Although I found out that my grandfather passed while in a hotel parking lot in Eugene, the same town where I found that the friend I hoped to visit was in the hospital, we had many wonderful drives through the changing leaves, and met up with a dozen good friends on either side of our framily. 

As much as I appreciated traveling and seeing new things, the part of the year that made my heart happiest was just being home. I had three different homes in 2018, aside from my parent's house which will always be a different, deep/nostalgic feeling of home. I left my home of 4.5 years and moved into a tiny studio with my boyfriend, then moved sight unseen into a relatively disgusting bigger house. After six weeks of traveling during the first two months we moved in, some fresh paint and lots of magic erasers, I'm enjoying having hours and days in my abode with my man and dog and our tiny ass fridge. 

Obviously, I didn't draw this one, but I took this photo upon the conclusion of leading Paleo Trek for the second time. It was a weird summer, doing a job that had always made me happy and realizing that it didn't anymore. Especially because the friends that had seen that happiness couldn't understand why or how I was changing, they just assumed it was a negative thing. I think of life in Spirals, you're growing outward, facing some of the same problems, hurdles, and joys you have before, but from a different angle. I'm so glad I spent my 20's working hard, doing what I loved and trying new things with new people in new places. 

One of the images I worked on for therapy is a graphic (in progress) that highlights how I understand identity. Identity is like a tree at your core, there may be one or three or five (but goodness not an even number, lol) of things you identify with at your core. Over time those trees will grow, and new branches will emerge. These branches can be new people in your life that have similar feelings on that subject as you, or careers along that path. These might grow into sturdy branches or they might fall, to give way to a new branch to grow. The roots of that tree go into who you are, but as the tree grows, it might shift a bit. 

Going into 2019, I'm working on a few more applications for Graduate schools. This is especially challenging for me, as academia is so important to me, and funding is so scarce, that I yearn for an amazing program that I can flourish in, for free, within my realm of interests. The challenging part is deciding just what interest to pursue. At this point I've written three different, almost opposing essays about how one or the other program is everything I want in life. This year is bound to bring big changes (hopefully not scary political ones) to my life, and I have no idea which direction it will send me. What I do know is that I have a super supportive family, a group of enduring friends, and a car that I've just about paid off. So, bring it, 2019. 

An identity analysis with a Grad school Focus... and lots of room for adding on. :)