My Identity is Changing
Three and a half years ago, around Christmas time, my mom, my two sisters, and I , got onto a plane and flew from San Francisco, California to St. Louis, Missouri. We moved because my mom had been accepted to Covenant Theological Seminary to get her Masters Degree in Counseling. That day my Identity changed, I could feel it changing from the moment I stepped onto the plane. As the air pressure shifted on the plane, so did the pressure of moving to a place I had never been to. The moment the wheels of the plane hit the St. Louis land, I went form “the girl with all the friends,” to “the girl from California who doesn’t know anyone.” Even though I had left California, I held onto it. It was who I was, and I wasn’t going to let that part of my life go; it was all I knew. I wanted everyone to know I was from California, and from then on it became my identity, I was the “California Girl.”
To most people in St. Louis, when I mentioned that I was from California, I was flooded with questions. Like most 5th graders, my classmates were curious, trying to figure out how cool I was. I was like a movie star. Kid’s eyes would light up in excitement as they asked me, “Do you know how to surf? Have you ever met someone famous? Do you have a house on the beach?” The kids, curious and excited, waited for my answer. I could feel the pressure on me to answer yes to all of their questions. My eyes would shift to each kid as I contemplated what to do: I could answer yes or know: lie or tell the truth: be cool or the same as everyone else. Finally, I sadly answered, “No, no, and….no.”
Still, even after a year of living in St. Louis, I clung to my Californian Identity. It was who I was, and well, it was cool.
After a year of my friends getting tired of my “California this, California that,” they got pretty annoyed. They would tell me, “Claire, are you trying to make us jealous? All you talk about is California!” And all I could do was shake my head and say, “It’s all I know.” At that moment I realized I needed to find a new identity. Because of this, I realized that California is a big theme park. The more times you go on a ride, the more boring it gets. Once you have ridden the ride a million times, it’s not as big of a deal compared to someone who had never ridden the same ride, but never has.
I began to start looking at what my new identity could be. I knew that I wasn’t good at sports, so that was out of the question. I knew that I was creative, artsy, and smart; so I tried my hardest to make sure that people noticed that about me. Next, I started trying harder in school, you know, mostly A’s and B’s. I practiced my art skills and I got better and better. I began to form my new identity.
Even though I added new identities, my “California girl” identity never really went away. Sure, I talked about California less, but it still got brought up at least once a day in my daily conversations. And, many times a day, I’d drift off and think about, “my home.” I realized it was o.k. to talk about it, and that it was o.k. to think about it, because it is apart of me and I can’t do anything about it. I realized that where I am from is my identity, it’s who I am.
Eventually, when I move back to California, I will become the “St. Louis girl.” And that will be my identity; it will be part of my life. And well, it won’t be so cool. But, in the end, I realized that where you are from defines who you are, what you do, how you act, and even how you talk. My “California girl” identity is me, it says, Claire.