I can’t say I’m a student. I’m no longer an intern. I have no job. I’m not living in my home country but I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a foreigner where I am. I’m neither here nor there. I have no one physical place that I long to return to or remain in. When you’re stripped of all titles and labels, when you are starting over but have no set path, you begin to question who you are, who you were, and who you’re evolving into. When all the superficial stuff is stripped away and you’re left alone, you ask yourself who am I. Deep down to the core, who am I really?
When you’re staring at the white, blank canvas of life what do you paint? The freedom to be and do anything you want should be exhilarating not daunting and debilitating. I came to Italy content and at peace with myself. I knew leaving my job and my life to pursue another path was the right thing to do, even though I had no idea what the other path was or how it was going to come to be. I didn’t know why exactly but I felt it was time to let go and move beyond. I don’t regret it. Not even now. Not even in this dizzying state of uncertainty and doubt. I just wish I had more clarity, more resolve, more some-thing, more one-thing.
I deconstructed my life with the intention of constructing it again but now I’m not sure if I can do it. I feel like I’m in over my head and have overestimated my strength and determination to start all over again. There’s no job supporting me anymore. The safety net is gone. There’s no plan B. It’s either move blindly ahead or remain motionless, but that is impossible. So it seems I have no choice but to move beyond, feeling my way one, small step at a time through the unknown. It’s time to trust myself. Again.
I have been learning to do a lot of trusting myself in the last few years because it has been a time of inner turmoil for me – a constant struggle between my mind and my heart, between my reason and that little voice within. I have learned, however, reflecting back on past decisions throughout my life, that when I trust myself and listen to that little voice within, my intuition, that I am led to make those decisions that seem bigger and scarier but are really meant to prepare me for the next steps in life and for even bigger and scarier decisions. That little voice, my intuition, has led me to expansive choices, to challenging, yet fruitful paths. I need to remember this during those difficult moments in my life when I am again faced with decisions, and even more importantly uncertainty. And such a moment is now.
I have no “label” or “title” and needless to say this is a bit unsettling for me. Growing up in the US, I believe we have become conditioned to know at all times exactly what we are doing and where we are going. Our life becomes one event after another. Our sense of self then becomes strongly linked to and derived from something exterior and we rely on that to give importance and meaning to our lives. But in the event that we lose those labels and titles, what then? What are we left with? The reality is that sometimes people don’t know (yet) what they are doing or where they are going and just need some time to figure it out. For the outside world this person can be seen as indecisive, lazy, or lacking motivation. I’m not saying that one should live life idly, waiting for the day when they’ve finally figured everything out because that day will never come. One should have goals and objectives in life. They should want to work towards something greater, something they are passionate about but they should not derive their sense of self from it. This is what I am learning during my time as a “label-less” and “title-less” person. I am not any less, however, without these.