It’s been ages (in blogging time) since I last wrote here, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that my last post was made to commemorate my second wedding anniversary. My husband and I have been married for two years, in a relationship for eight, and friends for fifteen. If there is one thing that I am extremely grateful for, every single day, it is being with him and having a front-row seat to the unfolding of creativity and passion. Life with/as an artist will always have its challenges, but its rewards are immeasurable. I wouldn’t trade this for anything else right now.
I open this post with this thought, because it is precisely my marriage, my relationship with my husband, and our joint pursuit of creative dreams and passions that keeps me grounded every single day. And our anniversary month–September–gave me SO MUCH to be grateful for that I couldn’t believe the things the blessings that were unfolding at the time. Each of the opportunities that opened up–from fashion shows and free clothes, to recognition and creative ventures, to, most importantly, the chance to get my health back on track–were affirmations of a path I was on and an identity that I was becoming and owning.
It is also my husband who has been reminding me lately: Stick to your path. Claim what’s yours. Claim who you are–claim it! It isn’t always easy to say this, especially when you live in a society that’s bound to certain norms of what you should be doing and what you should have by a certain age, but living out this “mantra” can be quite liberating. For one, it frees you from having to be someone you’re truly not. Next, it allows you to eliminate the clutter of options that surrounds you day in and day out. It also forces you to take a hard look at your priorities and sharpen your focus with, as a boss of mine says, “laser-like precision.” Knowing who you are, and claiming it, makes the road ahead seem clearer and less daunting.
I say all these things now because, more than ever, the past few weeks have opened up for me questions of identity and survival. These questions would be moot if I had been happy and content enough to be a regular, 8-to-5 employee with a desk, a title, a certain career trajectory, and health care benefits (among other perks of employment). But I don’t think I’m ever meant to be a regular, 8-to-5 employee so the questions HAVE to be asked: If I were a brand, what brand would I be and what would I stand for? If I were to choose among my (so) many hats, which would I choose–and would I be happy with it? What path would bring me the greatest fulfillment AND the most optimized financial returns? Which things should I give up? Which things are worth keeping in my life? How do I simplify my life and still meet all my personal and professional goals?
If you know me and know enough about the things I’ve been busy with these days, you know how hard these questions are for me, and how difficult it will be to narrow the options down later on.
So, again, my husband reminds me: You already know who you are–claim it! And every time he tells me that, I am reminded of that period when we had just become reacquainted with each other, when I had left a stable, full-time job to be a freelance writer, a creative entrepreneur. Little did I know that choosing that path would ultimately lead me to some of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. From writing books to performing poems to speaking up for certain ideas to representing brands and ideals, the journey has been amazing so far. And all because I became fearless enough, at one point in my youth, to claim a reality that I so badly wanted for myself.
Today, I am no longer young and, I admit, no longer as fearless as I used to be. Age has brought with it a lot of practical realities to consider and even a bit of doubt. But I am still looking forward to claiming that identity that I know is mine, and to reaping the rewards of knowing who I am, claiming it, and making the most out of it.
After all, when you truly know yourself, however life ends up, at least you will always end up with yourself intact. That, nobody else can take away from you.