It’s been a while since I last wrote here, and the online silence was deliberate. I seemed to have reached a point where I felt unsure of what I would like to say, what I would like my thoughts and words to mean, and what I would really like to be known for. There’s a rule in writing that goes “every word must have a purpose”, and for a time I felt that I had lost touch with my own.
It’s the peril of wearing too many hats, I suppose. One minute I’d be working on politics, another I’d be writing lifestyle features on travel and the arts. One minute I’d be conducting writing workshops, and the next I’d be doing consulting work for clients. There was a time when all the hats were a source of pride, when all the activity was exhilarating.
Lately, however, these multiple identities have become a source of confusion and stress.
A dear mentor asked me, during a night of healthy food and cathartic conversation at her home facing Manila Bay, “It’s okay to wear many hats, but you have to find the steel of your being. What is the steel of your being?”
I couldn’t answer, and I almost cried.
The weeks that followed were then spent with zero blogging and minimal social media activity. They were also filled to the rafters with projects and deadlines–and for a while all the activity numbed me and turned me into a mechanical workhorse. I chose not to dwell on my “identity crisis” lest I sink into a depression and become unproductive. I chose to ignore the questions and simply do what was required of me. Through it all, I felt that I had to keep (most of) my opinions to myself, thinking that I really didn’t have much to contribute to any discussion happening online.
When I felt that I had reached an emotional rock-bottom, I turned back to myself and realized that I had become way too harsh on myself. Why was I forcing myself to stick to only one “identity”? Why was I denying myself all the colors that I wanted to incorporate into my life simply because it had become too tiring? Maybe there is a way to streamline my life, make my days flow better, and still make peace with the fact that I do love diversity. I have always been an exuberant and colorful spirit–why force myself to be otherwise now? What was I so scared of?
Truth be told, I still don’t have the answers. I’m still trying to find the right questions to ask, still trying to figure out what elements I would like to keep in my life (and which to discard), still trying to find a way to make the pieces fit.
But I suspect that many of us feel this way–what with all the opportunities to multi-task and wear as many hats as we possibly can–and I feel that, somehow, I’m not alone in this type of journey.
The bottomline I’m thinking of is this: nobody said that we should just confine ourselves to one “identity” throughout our lifetimes. Transitions are inevitable; most of them are healthy. And there really is no straight-out formula for contentment and peace of mind; there really is no right or wrong way for figuring these questions out. We should give ourselves some leeway for experiments and adventures, and, most of all, we should allow ourselves to have fun while doing it.
The twists and the turns of the creative process lead you back to an important encounter that at first seemed quite neutral or even something that made you feel repelled or exasperated.
I’ve gone through repulsion and I’ve gone through exasperation. I can’t wait to get on with the rest of the creative process and finally reach that “important encounter.”
Who knows? It just might be right around the corner.