Identity (Get to the end…there is yoga!)

msp with you first weekend cropped
Pete and I in a new city, a new chapter, smiles all around!

Big shocker, here! I am in transition…yet again. You know what I am so tired of doing? Maybe this sounds odd, but I am so tired of making decisions. Don’t yell at me. I know that I am very fortunate to have the freedom and respect to make alllllll of the choices. HOWEVER, the average person makes 35,000 choices a day, and right now, I feel as if all 35,000 are weighted with the possibility of everything blowing up. I’m a very dramatic person. Ideally, I wish that I could wake up tomorrow and my clothes be laid out, my meals be planned, and my timeline be set and non-negotiable so that, for one second of the day, I don’t have to be thinking…”Is that the wisest choice for me, right now?”. I am a professional at questioning every single thing I do. I am the queen of ven-diagrams. I am the author of the world’s most intricate pros and cons lists. Hello, I am Stephanie Carey and I am a classic over thinker. Ya feel me?

First step: acknowledging the issue. I woke up the other day with a humbling epiphany of sorts as I have been digging to the root of an issue that seems to be growing as I step one foot in front of the other to a semi planned/semi not new chapter of my life. Here it is. Be ready. It’s pretty earth shattering.

I care too much.

Ok, it doesn’t just end there. I care too much about what people are thinking. As much as I hate to admit that, it’s almost subconscious. Truly, I think this is an issue for many of us, and we don’t even recognize it.

In my generation, (those damn millennials!), I am noticing this incredible push to “find yourself” more than ever. We are constantly being pushed to discover our identity and as a result we are unhealthily and pathetically clinging onto some supposed identity that we have found. If you were to be honest with yourself right now, what would you say is your identity? Is it your job? Your family? Your Instagram account? The health field? The science field? Education? What makes you, you? What would happen if you didn’t have that thing anymore? Would you crumble along with it? Would you suddenly feel lost?

I am absolutely not saying that we shouldn’t have passions or hobbies or any of that good stuff. I am just challenging you (and myself) with the question that is, how much is that thing, your supposed identity, really you? Thinking back to my time in Peace Corps, I often am haunted by the fact that I felt brain washed to stay longer than I should have. Why was it so incredibly difficult to leave, even when my safety was on the line, my health was at its absolute lowest, and I was more miserable that I could really explain those last two months of my service? I’ve wrestled with this question a lot, and a few days ago, I realized that I simply just cared too much about the wrong things. I had put my identity in Peace Corps. It was who I was at that time. It was something long awaited and I invested everything into it. If I suddenly decided that I needed to leave, decided to not be a Peace Corps Volunteer, who was I going to be? And a step further than that…What would everyone think (because everyone cares SO MUCH about my life, I know I know)?! How scary is that? Seriously!

How many runners experience an injury but refuse to stop even in the midst of excruciating pain, because well…everyone knows that they are a runner. What would people think if they stopped to take care of the injury and, God forbid, got “out of shape”. How many women (and men) skip the ice cream at the birthday party, not because of health reasons, but because they are the “healthy friend” and, God forbid, someone sees them “slip”. How many people stay in a major that they actually hate, but a student is who they know they should be. God forbid people see them drop out and pursue a different path. Is the fear of failing about letting yourself down, or actually the fear of what everyone else will think?

This is hard stuff, you guys. Why? Because now it’s about vanity, ego, pride, insecurity. Oh my…but I don’t have those layers! Jokes. You don’t have to be ashamed of these parts of yourself. I’m sure not! Honestly, I am glad that I recognize them! As I am preparing to go back to school in a short month, I also am trying to find a job that works with my academic schedule. It is like a horrifying puzzle. Initially, I felt some kind of shame that I was looking to work in a grocery store or waitress again. Why? Well, because I have a degree in the health field, and people are just going to look at me like another college graduate that couldn’t get a job in her field and now she is going into debt to get a higher degree and blah blah blah. Being a “health professional” is my identity. That’s what I have been doing for my whole adult life (all six-ish years of it *gasp*). I am mentally slapping the sense back into myself, now. I have two words for myself in this situation:

WHO CARES?

You know what? My identity is in the Lord, and it is a struggle to not allow the world’s standard to out shine that. I have had a calling since I was very young. One that I have prayed on and sought after, literally, across the globe. Some have called me “wanderer” or “unsettled” and even “lost”, but those things aren’t true. I’m going where I am led, staying open to opportunities and taking them. Life isn’t a beginning and an end, it is a dynamic journey accepting and riding all of the in-betweens.

So, I am going to stop myself before I go off on a longer rant than is necessary, but I leave you with these questions. How much of what you are doing is because it fills your soul as an individual, beautiful, capable and wonderful creation? How much of what you are doing really feels like it is what you are called to do not only for yourself, but brings light and joy to the people around you? How much of what you are holding onto is because you are under the disillusion that it is what makes you? How much of what you are grasping onto so tightly is simply because you are afraid of what people are going to say if you let it go?

My challenge for myself going forward is this. I am attempting to acknowledge that if I can’t let go of something without it feeling like I am letting go of myself…I am too attached. I read this the other day and want to share it in closing to this word vomit that I have subjected you to:

“When you receive a God-given dream, not a wish or a fantasy, God will give you the strength and courage to make it happen. ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’- John 16:33”

My prayer for you and me is that we are following our God-given dreams, and not the expectation of others. That we haven’t forgotten who we are in the midst of building a false identity.

And per usual…YOGA! here is a nice flow you can do in literal street clothes any time anywhere if you just need to callllmmm  down before or after making big (or not so big) life decisions. Sorry about the low quality photos but you get the idea!

  1. Beginning in Savasana (Corpse pose) with hands on the belly. Allowing the rising and falling of your breath to relax you here.

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2. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose) The first two options are assisted with the block, the last is not assisted. You can make this dynamic by rolling one vertebrae at a time up and down, waking up the spine and giving yourself a little massage.

 

 

3.Upavistha Bitilasana Marjaryasana (seated  cat cow)

INHALE Chest forward. Widen the collar bones. bring heart forward
EXHALE round the back and drop chin. Pull the belly in.

 

 

4. Sukhasana Variation Side Bend focusing on anchoring the opposite hip down and opening the chest toward the ceiling. Look at how different one side of my body is today compared to the other! Crazy!

 

5. Seated Kati Chakrasana (Waist Rotation Pose) This is a small movement, Exhale as you twist, gazing over the shoulder only as comfortable, otherwise keeping the neck neutral by looking toward the sidewall.

 

6. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt pose) Maybe doing a few nice shoulder rolls!

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7. Neck rolls right, down, left down. Inhale to the side, exhale forward, tucking chin to chest.

 

8. Rest in Savasana 5-10 min if you can. Maybe allow the right hand to rest on the heart. Allow everything to relax. If you have trouble just resting here, I often set a timer so I don’t have to think about how long I am there and a gentle chime brings me back to reality!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. lisam84 says:

    Great post! I am normally a yoga enthusiast but at six months pregnant, am a bit limited in what I can do. I’ll get back into it soon!

    Like

  2. Annette Alleva says:

    You are very wise for one so young. Don’t sell yourself short, this was not “word vomit,” but thoughtful, articulate—and even helpful for me who is still wrestling with the issues you raise. As for the yoga, don’t think I could get past the “corpse pose,” but we all have to start somewhere, right?

    Like

  3. Mom says:

    So much wisdom! Thank you for putting it into words, my dear. Oh, and by the way, you are resembling me in photos more and more each time I look at you. You’d think we were related!

    Like

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