Friday, August 13, 2010

Age 33 Crisis

As I have grown older, I have realized at each cross-roads of adventures, the root of my decisions is to try to answer the simple question, Who am I?

I've looked in the USA.
I've looked in Africa.
I've looked in China.
What have I discovered?

That instead of narrowing down the answer into a nice neat little packaged Jennifer who is confident about who she is, the world travel has just made her more and more complicated. Instead of a nice concise list documenting her identity, now there are a thousand different Jennifers, each being as flexible as needed to fit in wherever she is living. At sixteen, she was limited by her few experiences and was the good Christian girl. After that though, the variety of interests and identities that she took on blew up into a million little segments of personality. She is happy in each of her roles, in each of her personalities, in each of her interests and passions, in each of the different environments but when faced with the decision to choose one of them and to try to pick the next adventure, it becomes impossible. You may think... just try to fulfill as many of the different parts of Jennifer as you can; however, there are conflicts between the different Jennifers. There is the traditional Jennifer and the totally non-traditional Jen. There is the English speaker, the Chinese and French speaker. There is the knitter and the construction worker. There is the athlete and the TV watcher. There is the non-materialistic camper and the computer user. There are just too many choices!

What am I going to do after Peace Corps?

I bought a book. What should I do with My Life? by Po Bronson


Erica said...

Life is never as stable or simple as we want it to be. Life is messy. It's not black & white.
It's often not about right or wrong; it just is what it is. Life lies on a continuum of complexities.
B&W white only exist in comic books & movies. People are rarely good or bad, strong or weak,
in our lives or out of it. The difficulties and hard times are what make for the best stories & what makes for good friends & growth. "Normal" people have so little to talk about. The ties that bind us are sometimes impossible to explain, sometimes to forget. They connect us even
after it seems like the ties should be broken. Some bonds defy distance, time & logic. Everyone leaves a footprint in our lives, whether it's as a mistake, lesson, or both. Forgiveness is really about acceptance - letting go of hurt feelings we experience--the unexpected is often what changes our lives for better or worse.

We meet people and fall in love and when we part they leave marks for us to remember them by. Our lovers sculpt us, they define us, for better or worse. Like a pinball, we slam into them and rebound in our different directions propelled by the contact and after the parting we might be scared, stronger or more fragile, or needy, or angry, or guilty, but never unchanged. Our lovers linger inside us, like ghosts, haunting the corridors and deserted rooms, sometimes whispering, sometimes screaming, but always there waiting...

-Being Human

Dr. Jen said...

I like the TV show "Being Human" too.

Deborah said...

Have you read "The Global Soul" by Pico Iyer? He has written a lot about some of the themes you are currently pondering. I think this book is quite good, and a fair amount can be gleaned as well as from some of his other travel writings.

Good luck with your continuing adventure!

M said...

Hum, the French speaker isn't that imposing it seems, cuz I never heard that Jennifer :) Been speaking French for 3 weeks now, it feels weird to switch back to English with my students and then Chinese with the cab driver in the middle of a conversation. Slightly schizophrenic....

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Cutie..