Mary got to bring a big part of her identity with her to New Zealand. I had to leave a large portion of mine behind. This is having more of an effect on me than I thought it would. Or maybe, I never thought that much about it until we got here.
Without the connections I have back in the States, I knew that coming here meant that I would not be able to do the work that I was doing back home. What I did not realize was how deeply entrenched my sense of self was tied into working for Outward Bound and being a bicycle tour guide. Even though for years now I’ve felt that I wanted to move away from those things, I had no idea how much importance I had placed in them to help me define who I am. These roles I played provided me with a sense of self-worth. It’s easy to feel good about yourself when you can tell people you work for the North Carolina Outward Bound School and that you “help people discover more about themselves, others, and the world around them through challenging experiences in unfamiliar settings”.
I am stripped down and now wonder who I am supposed to be now that my costume is gone. I scan through the want ads, questioning what I see. Can I be a personal assistant? A baker? A deckhand for the ferry? How about a customer service representative, a university admissions counselor, or a real estate agent assistant? Could any of these things be me? I think I would like working with computers making beautiful web pages, but I look at the qualifications for those jobs and know that I would never be called for an interview. And after all the cups I have drunk, I don’t even have enough experience to make coffee in this caffeine-crazed town.
I know that a job is not all that defines a person. I call myself a runner, a writer, a husband, and a friend. These things are all well and good so why can’t I just be satisfied with that? Today, I’ll go to work taking orders and making tacos. There will be moments when I will enjoy it and there will be times when I will be wondering why I’m there. But underlying it all will be the question “is this it?” With nearly fifty years of life experience here I am working a barely more than minimum wage job.
I know I will reach the other side of this. I don’t know what I’ll find there or who I will be when I get there. That’s part of the adventure I guess. I know this is one of those times in life when growth will occur, perhaps even a metamorphosis. I am curious to see how it all turns out and what I will be doing a year from now. But in the meantime, the growing pains are difficult as I walk around this new world and wonder who I’m going to be.