Fog sleeps over San Francisco today, and I can’t help but feel a tad homesick. Not that Chicago’s weather is, by any means, ideal, but the blinding haze that seems to be shrouding the bay has made me miss the muggy and heavy summers of the Midwest. It seems that lately I’ve been dancing on this rainbow, watching streaks of color whizz by my feet, rains of gold coins falling beneath me. I’ve been thrilled to start a new job, to follow my passions and dreams, and to get lost into something new and exciting. But what I forgot is that behind (or in front) of every rainbow is a storm. Honeymoon periods end. Things settle in, and get majorly real.
It hit me yesterday.
I didn’t just come here to visit. I moved here. And with that move has come some grandiose changes, changes that have made me overly conscious… of everything. I sat on the couch at work yesterday, feeling a sting behind my eyes, looking around at the exposed beams on the ceiling, feeling the plush couch push up on the bottoms of my legs. It seemed that, in the blink of an eye, my entire world had changed. Nothing was familiar or comfortable; everything was new and scary. I didn’t know what I was doing, why I did it, or who I was in that moment.
“How’s it going?” one of my new friends asked.
I confided in this friend that I was in the midst of a minor freakout, and what was worse, I wasn’t really sure why. Luckily, she brought me on a walk, got me some comfort food, and gave me some time to detox. Grateful for her. Majorly.
Identity is totally contextualized, and dropping ourselves into new territory–into a brand new context–changes how we view ourselves. We are suddenly hyperconscious of our surroundings and how we fit into those surroundings. We are suddenly concerned with our every move, our every word, and the perceptions of those around us. Or at least I have been.
And it makes sense.
The environment–our surroundings–comes before we can develop ourselves, because it takes the internalization of what’s external in order to shape us. But for that reason, I find myself asking questions like, Am I too ____? or Am I _____ enough? to be “here,” consistently coming up short because of how unanswerable these two questions are. I keep telling myself I’m not too much of anything, that I’m more than enough of everything, because all that I need to do is be me.
But still I laid in bed this morning wondering how to mold myself in the context of this new place, asking myself how to fit in, how to make a new life in the midst of such sudden change. But the startling reality is that it is impossible to mold ourselves into a new place, it is impossible to rush the process–any process for that matter, for when two new things come together, they take on a shared responsibility to ease each other’s discomfort, to give when things need to be given, and to exchange reciprocally, so that it isn’t one thing changing for the other, so that it isn’t a unidirectional motion of exchange, but rather a reciprocally beneficial and mutually sacrificial relationship, one that benefits both sides.
And so today, in the midst of my homesickness, I think that San Francisco is pushing a bit harder onto me, bending me uncomfortably into somewhat of a new form, but the glimmer of hope lies in the ways I can do that back to San Francisco.