I am one month into college.
Currently I should be: writing two papers, creating a film, studying for a test, researching a prominent Canadian figure, reading my textbooks, and making a hefty amount of artwork so I actually have something to sell at my second art show this December.
Instead, I am writing to me and you.
Sometimes I think, “I used to be good at articulating. I used to be able to think about how I was feeling and immediately put those thoughts onto paper.”
Now it seems as though I hardly ever write what I think. These days it feels as though I’m writing so much and simultaneously writing nothing at all.
Identity is a funny thing. People ask us, “What do you do?” Before school, I felt as though I had nothing to say. But now I have something. Now I can tell them, “I’m a journalism student. I go to school. I study. I write papers. I research. I procrastinate. I am learning to be a truth-teller in all I do. Also, I am very tired.”
I can easily wrap myself around the idea that being a journalism student is who I am because it’s currently what I do.
The other day I received a mark on an assignment I had finished. It was a terrible grade. And get this — it was for a writing class. I saw the mark and instantly wilted.
I am supposed to be good at this. I am supposed to be a writer. People have told me I’m a good writer, and if people tell you that, it has to be true, doesn’t it? If I get a bad mark in a writing class, does that prove I’m a bad writer? Am I in the wrong program? Why am I taking journalism if I can’t actually write? And why is everyone else in my program approximately seventeen and a half years old? Why did I think it was a good idea to wait four years to go to school?
It’s astonishing what can happen when you make what you do into who you are. It’s staggering how quickly you can crumble. When your identity is something shakeable, a feather can touch you and still you’ll fall apart.
I am a writer, even after that bad mark. But it’s what I do, not who I am. I am a journalism student, but it’s what I do, not who I am. I am an artist, but it’s what I do, not who I am.
Instead, who I am is this:
Deeply, immeasurably loved.
I think this on my commute, while I watch the sun rise. I am loved, I breathe in. Deeply loved, I breathe out. Immeasurably loved.
I like school. I like how my brain hurts from listening and thinking and digesting and wondering. I like digging deep into the lives of fascinating people, and being able to tell someone’s story who may not be able to tell it on their own.
But it’s not who I am. It’s just what I do right now.
My identity is entirely different than that.