A Future-Oriented Identity

I’m a proactive person. That sentence right there has taken me about four decades to write and it is shattering the negative messages I’ve absorbed from others thus far in my life. Anxious, over-reactive and impatient are words I’ve used for myself after hearing them again and again in response to my proactive behaviors. I anticipate and respond and that’s a good thing! Now that I know who I am, I can make better choices in how I frame my own situation and how I interact with others.

A simple decision I made in the spur of the moment last year to not be proactive has now resulted in me finding myself facing a highly stressful situation this summer. I’m struggling to cope because my behavior was out of character for me; I hesitated where I would normally act and took the (at the time) easy way out. I’m offering myself grace in that there is no way to possibly anticipate every crisis that will come, but, wow, the feeling of relief I feel on a regular basis because I typically deal with the tough stuff first and avoid these types of outcomes is something I am deeply craving. I want to become someone who is capable of grace towards others in these moments; so often, my mind goes to “this could have been avoided if you’d only…”

What I’m visualizing in my mind is a bell-shaped curve of proactivity to procrastination, which the majority of people falling squarely between those two extremes–they act “just in time,” making deadlines but cutting it much closer than what is allowed for by my comfort level. I experience the most extreme stress when I find myself facing an unanticipated situation with time pressure. If I have time and warning, I’m much calmer, so I do everything humanly imaginable to hone those two resources.

Where I’ve made mistake after mistake is trying to move others onto my timeline, when they want to work at a much slower pace and tend to interpret my warnings as nagging or fear-mongering. I know now how to talk to someone when I see them headed 90 miles an hour towards a brick wall “I’m a really proactive person, so things tend to pop up on my radar before they would bother someone else, but, I see an potential issue here and can offer my thoughts if you are interested.” An invitation to consider rather than an a “WTF is wrong with you” when they don’t jump when I say danger is coming.

I’m a highly anxious and impatient person, but those characteristics are only born out when I’m missing the timely warning and feel trapped in needing to make a quick response. I was utterly confused as to my lack of panic when the pandemic was announced, but I had been paying attention and making arrangements for months beforehand, so my anxiety and impatience were not highly triggered. Owning my identity as a prepper and a proactive person helps me feel proud of who I am, rather than ashamed of it. It makes me incredibly curious as to the characteristics myself and others possess that may be equally misunderstood and mislabeled. Are there any you can identify in yourself?

Unsolidified: My Self-Definition

I knew my reason for existence before I knew who I was as a person. I’m here to aid in the soul-recovery mission of reconnection lost, buried and disowned parts of self with Self. I’m a shame-eater; someone who lives as unabashedly authentically as possible in order to provide space for others to do the same.

Coming to know one’s self when all you have to go on is chips of cracked porcelain takes patience and reconstruction skills. Nothing feels permanent to me about who I am; the projected image fills in and reshapes faster than I can process at times. I work often from the outside in; I alter my external surroundings, my appearance, my relationships and suddenly another motif of identity is emblazoned on the wall of my being.

Above all, I am fluid. Every pot I shape that bears my image solidifies only so far as I shield myself from the kilns of predictability and unity of self. I gaze with envy at those who know themselves, not simply as well as I know my pieces, but who know themselves whole and as one. I can tell you the story of how I move but not where I’m located; my being resists roots, resists entombment, resists place.

This is for survival, this ability to reshape and reform at a moment’s notice. Quick, gather the shards and make haste at any sign of danger. Present as battle-worn and shield or as open and tender, whatever works in the moment. But others take my façade as being; the true cracks are too well hidden and the visible fissures their “aha, weakness” distraction lines. They see me as I want to be seen, as I need to be seen, not as I am.

I go piece by piece, holding each up to light, notating its edges aloud, and still I without witness. My dog, truthfully, can ferret out my lost selves better than any, which somehow makes it worse. Lacking community, I must be mirror and container and wall and ground for myself.

Many of my margins break from center. I am nonbinary. Panromantic. Asexual. A sexual abuse survivor. A person with dissociative identity disorder, multiple anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, chronic pain and on and on. A person without family, home, deep cultural ties or social support. I am paradox: rigid, brittle and yet able to bend and restructure myself instantly.

I know why I’m here and what my task is. I know why I was shattered beyond recognition early on. The unfairness of it is irrelevant; my purpose is fixed. I find myself and know myself and super-glue myself as I live it out. I know joy in simplicity and hope through endurance. Little that I have has come easily. Nothing makes me prouder than being present as a cracked and worn piece of self is cupped in palms with delicacy and honor. Even flecks of glass catch the rain.