Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Getting Comfortable With Being In Transition

And I don't just mean the big obvious one, though that's something I've had to get comfortable with too.  I mean the whole big transition that is life, that thing we all do every day or else we become some stagnant, stale shell of a human being.

When I was a kid, I thought that all I had to do was figure out who I was, and that's who I'd be.  Forever.  Nothing else, and nothing less.  I'd grow up, find a few words to describe myself, and that would be that.  One thing I've had to come to terms with is the fact that that is never going to happen.  Who I am today?  Really not who I was yesterday.  Tomorrow?  Well, I'll be someone else again, won't I?

I don't mean every transition I go through is as big and life-changing as the one from trying to be female to finally being male.  Sometimes it's as simple as reading an insightful blog post, or engaging with new people on Twitter.  Or in real life even.  That happens too, on occasion.  If who I am is the sum of my experiences, then with every moment I'm in transition from being someone who hasn't experienced something to someone who has.

This also means that I have to update who I think I am at almost every turn.  I thought I was someone who was only romantically interested in people of a specific gender or type until I realized it wasn't that simple, not for me anyway.  I thought of myself as someone who hated kids and would never have any or want to until I met my niece.  And the big one?  Perhaps bigger than all the rest, even THE big one?

I thought I was always and forever an Artist before anything else.  That was the pinnacle of my identity, the one thing that I had always been and would always be no matter what else changed, I was an Artist and I would paint/draw/make jewellery until the day I died of some bizarre cancer or heavy metal poisoning from my work.  I believed this until I looked up one day and realized I was becoming a Writer.

I looked at what I had drawn or made in the past week, the past month.  Nothing.  I mean literally.  I hadn't made a damn thing the whole time, not so much as a doodle.  I looked at what I had been doing instead.  When I wasn't writing, I was reading about writing.  I was talking about writing, and I was on my way to someplace where I would be writing.  (Or I was at my day job, but even there I was thinking about writing.)  That's when I realized that I was watching my own transition from Artist with a little writing on the side, to Writer with a little art on the side.

I can't say that I was entirely happy about this.  I mean, I'd put how many years into that identity?  I now owe how much in student loans because of it?  And what will my Grandma think?  I was always the Artist in the family, one of her kind.  I felt like I was betraying a core part of me.  But that didn't stop the transition.  Because even though I was mourning the Artist, I was celebrating the Writer.  You see, the big difference between the two has been commitment.  I have actually been able to commit to one writing project, my novel, far longer and more consistently than any body of art I've undertaken.  And I've realized, that I'd much rather be productive and prolific at something that I love than be sporadic and occasionally brilliant at something that I love.