A few weeks ago I had a moment of clarity it was very profound, yet difficult to process. The moment began with this question, "Do you even know who you are anymore?" All I've known and allowed to consume my very being all these years has been this anxiety disorder. I began to unravel what this new question meant. As I was dissecting the perception I had of me; I realized I could no longer tell what was a symptom or tendency brought up by anxiety and what was just part of my personality. This question represented the removal of a blindfold in my life. And, what I saw clearly was this truth, I AM MORE THAN ANXIETY. Anxiety is something I am going through but it is not who I am; there is so much more to me. But my discovery although great brought up a reality that was painful. I don't know who I am. I felt like a blank canvas, lost and confused. I allowed my identity to be stolen by anxiety. I thought to myself, feeling like a blank canvas could either frustrate and bring sadness or I can accept this challenge to get to know myself. So I decided to take on this challenge, and to be honest I didn't even know where to begin. I eventually decided to start with what I thought was most important which is who I am in God's eyes. So I began a small bible study on who God says I am. I figured, who God says I am has to be truest part of me. He created me so he knows me very well, better than anyone in this world. Here are some of the things that stood out to me during my bible study:
I am the daughter of the most high God (therefore I am protected and loved by Him)
I am free (I am not a slave to anything including anxiety)
I am an heir of God (he will always provide for me; I should never be anxious about that)
I am chosen (I have purpose in life)
Romans 8:14-16, Ephesians 1:5, Colossians 2:9-10, Romans 6:6, Genesis 1:27, Jeremiah 1:5, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 1 john 3:1-2 (these are some of the verses I studied )
Once I found this which I believe is the root of who I am; I began to see myself in a different light. I had discovered four new concepts about my identity that had nothing to do with anxiety, and that was liberating. If you don't believe in God that's okay. I respect your beliefs completely. If you find yourself wrestling with the same question; ask yourself what is the truest thing about your identity and begin your search from there. The second thing I wanted to learn about was my ancestry. I knew as much as I am a Latina woman but I wanted to find out more about my background. I awakened a curiosity inside of me and now I wanted to get to know myself as much as I could. Self discovery is such an important part of life. If you know who you are you will find yourself on the right path instead of following the negative thoughts. I felt the more I learned about my true self the smaller anxiety would become in my life. There is so much depth and beauty inside all of us, bigger than any darkness we face. Thankfully my awesome husband bought me the 23 & Me kit. I loved the title on the box of the kit, it read, "Welcome to you" there could not have been a more perfect title. I was like a child discovering myself for the first time or at least it felt that way. This kit helps you find information about your previous generations and gives you percentages of all the different ethnicities you are mixed with. It's quite fascinating. The way it works is you fill up the tube they send with 2mL of your saliva and mix it with a solution that preserves it.Then you mail it in and get your results in a month or so. I waited eagerly for my results. I'll share some of the cool findings here just for fun, but the point of this was that I had found something else to attach to my identify that had nothing to do with anxiety. Here are some of the highlights from my results:
I am 45.6 % East Asian & Native American
I am 43.2 % European (loved that I had Ashkenazi Jewish, Scandanavian, and Italian in my DNA)
I am 3.4% Western Asian & North African
I am 3.2 Sub-Saharan African
I have 283 variants of Neanderthal Ancestry (less than 4% of my overall DNA) which is more than 63% of 23&me customers! the highest they found was someone with 397 variants.
My Maternal Haplogroup (migrations that can be traced from a common ancestor ) is relatively uncommon. 1 in 10,000 of 23 & me customers share my haplogroup A2F (traces back to a woman who lived less than 16,000 years ago.That's nearly 640 generations ago!)
This was such a fun and exiting part of getting to know myself. In addition to this, I started paying attention to things people said about me and observations they made about my personality. This can be helpful but you also gotta be very careful. Not everything people say about you is true or should be taken seriously. There will be times when people will have an opinion of you that is completely wrong and if you accept it, it can affect you. So make sure you're only going to people that truly know you and have your best interest at heart like a spouse, parent, sibling, best friend etc. One of the things that helped me was talking to my dad whom I hadn't seen or talked to in 21 years. When we decided to give our relationship another try, we did it via phone since he currently lives in Mexico. One of the things he pointed out was that I was always doing something while we were on the phone. When we first began talking our conversations would be so fun and long that I would take advantage and wash the dishes, cook, and clean. So every time he called, he would joke and say, "What are you cleaning now? " One day he mentioned , "You know, you haven't changed much; when you were a little girl you were such a perfectionist. Always wanted things neat, always wanted the best grades. I loved that about you but I also felt you put yourself in so much pressure. " I was surprised because I had no recollection of that and this entire time I thought my perfectionist mentality and over cleanliness was a product of anxiety. The truth was, this has always been me and perhaps because of that and other habits/circumstances I am dealing with anxiety now. You see, we go through things throughout our life that we don't think affect us but later catch up to us. Reminds me of the times I've been in a hurry and hit my leg against the corner of the table and just walk off not acknowledging it or stopping to access whether it hurts or not. I just continue on with my day later to find a huge bruise on my leg that I never knew I had. Life is like that, we bruise and it manifests in anxiety, depression, our health, bad sleeping, etc. We don't know how we got to that point at times because it's been a series of bumping and bruising ourselves through different experiences and situations. The conversation with my dad was eye opening and it made me realize that I may be blaming a lot of my actual tendencies with anxiety. This may not be so clear to you but allow me to elaborate more. At times I would go off on my husband because he can be a messy person. He would tell me I needed to chill out, that the mess could get cleaned later. I would then get frustrated and say, "it's just anxiety gives me a keen awareness of all this mess and if you don't clean it bothers me." He would then reply to that, "Honey, you've always disliked messiness, even before anxiety." The point I am trying to make is that I've given anxiety so much credit and that is not good at all because one, I lost sight of who I was and two, I was under the impression that anxiety is all around me 24/7. I believed that I wasn't getting better when in reality anxiety is a small part of my life and it's not present my entire day. I am perhaps making it bigger than what it is and giving it more credit than it deserves. I ought to be careful with this. I need to realize that although anxiety making me feel like it is present all the time is a lie. I have moments of clarity, I have moments of true joy and peace. We must get our perspectives sorted out and see anxiety for what it is. A small percentage of our life that we have given too much credit to and personally, I have zoomed into and missed the big picture.
I am still on this journey of discovering myself. I have not arrived yet and don't think I will even until the day I die. We are ever changing and evolving human beings. At least I hope we would be because we tend to stay stuck and get comfortable. We must continue changing and becoming better, always remembering to compare ourselves with our old selves and not other people. The big thing for me now is knowing that anxiety is not my identity; it is simply something I am going through. I am more than my struggles, disappointments, shame, mistakes... There is beauty and wonder inside of me. Like my favorite duo band Johnnyswim sings, "I've got heaven locked up in these bones." I want to always remember my roots (who I am in God) and be true to myself (my dreams, my soul). I will continue this exploration eagerly. If you find yourself struggling with this, send me an email or comment below. I would like to see what others are thinking about this topic. Begin the search of yourself and let me know what other things you are doing to get to know yourself better. I believe this is a crucial step for our mental health. One other thing I am working on that I did not want to go much into is the 16 personalities test, and the ennagrams. Those are good assessments that reveal to you what careers, relationships, parenting styles, etc are good for your personality type. Taking this assessments can also be very helpful and give you good insights on your personality.
Many of us have lost our identities to different circumstances in life. We've allowed our past to define us and the present and future no longer matters. Whatever mistakes we've made have become the center of who we are instead of seeing them as learning experiences or a small part of or ongoing journey. For others, society and what the media says we are has become their identity. You need to own this, wear this, be married and have kids by this age. We've lost sense of who we want to be and what our true dreams are. These are just a few examples of how we are living in an epidemic of identity theft. There is only one you in this world. Taking the time to discover who you are and truly knowing yourself is one way you can love yourself more.We must not allow our circumstances and challenges to define us. If you are not already on the path of knowing yourself, today is the day to begin that journey.