Sunday, August 19, 2012

Change in Identity

I recently took a trip to my alma mater, which I had not seen ever since I graduated in May 2010. As soon I stepped off the plane and onto the floors of the airport, a brush of memories came into life. I made the same phone call to my mom, reassuring her that I arrived safely and I would call her after reaching my sorority. I took the same train back to campus. And, here’s the cherry on top, I stayed at the same sorority house I lived in during my junior & senior years of college. But this time, as a guest, not a resident. Rewind about two years, I was doing everything I would have been doing as a student, however you can’t go back in time and I wasn’t an undergrad student anymore.

During my time there, I visited many of my college friends, spent time at my common hang-out places, and tried a few new ones. I had an interesting conversation with FRIEND A, and how he declined a job offer out of state in fear of losing his identity & friends that he had created in college. And in a professional setting, it’s difficult to create or even have the same relationship with your co-workers that you have with your friends out of work. He was very involved in campus activities, so everyone practically knew him. It’s interesting that when you meet someone new, they have NO idea of your past (which could be a good or bad thing :-p), but sometimes we have certain expectations that they should know. How did you not know I like to dance? How did you not know I’m a vegetarian?

Just a couple weeks ago, we moved from the house that my brother and I had most of our life-changing events at and pretty much the only house my brother remembers living in. During this moving process, we would make several trips back to ‘old house’ to pick up odds & ends that the movers did not. And I would ALWAYS find a reason NOT to go. I couldn’t do it; it was just too painful. I couldn’t imagine how quickly a spot where my family shared a meal less than 24 hours ago has now become space; I couldn’t imagine how quickly a home became a house so quickly. This house represented so much more than a home, it was our identity. So in essence, I was doing the same thing as FRIEND A.

Yes, I resist change.

But actually, going to college out of state was a huge change (something I definitely wasn’t planning at all) – I was put into a completely new location, environment, and school. I didn’t know a single person in that state, let alone in the university. I left my identity back at home and maybe recreated the same one or grew on it. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to study abroad during college – but I didn’t know anyone. But part of that allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and do things light years ahead of my time, like act in a play! And while no one knew anything about me, I was able to experience something new. I think, part of the reason why experiences such as studying abroad are so refreshing, is it allows us to leave our identity behind and do something different.

It was a break from, being me.

FRIEND A eventually got a job in town and is doing his masters simultaneously. So maybe it was good that he stayed local, or maybe the move could have also been beneficial to him – I guess we’ll never know! It’s natural and often times easy to take the path of least resistance, but it’s not always the best path. Sometimes, maybe study abroad opportunities are thrown at us, or we’re thrown into situations we didn’t seek out that make us change. But as we get older, I think we need to consciously push ourselves to “grow”. I’m really going to miss the ‘old house’. But, I’m also looking forward to what this new house brings to my family. As I sit here, on the eve of my medical school career, I know I’m not going to be the same person four years down the road. And I’m extremely nervous, but very excited to learn a whole new world and make some amazing new friends. But most importantly, I’m excited to see how I change into the best doctor I can be for my future patients, which is the main reason for creating this blog! =) My identity is what I make of it, and I am going to continue to do things to where I’m always evolving.  


  1. Great post! I have thought about that same things many times and have come to the conclusion that we need to break out of our old routines, patterns, and associations to really understand who we are. It is one of the reasons I have enjoyed moving and look forward to moving again. If there was something I didn't like about the way I was, I can change it and start over with a new group of people who don't know my history/past/failures/accomplishments - I can be me, less inhibited. I actually feel sorry for your FRIEND A, what a missed opportunity. Thanks for linking up with Medical Mondays!

  2. I agree. Moving can be such an exhilarating experience. It's definitely refreshing starting off on a clean slate though! Thanks so much for your comment and thanks for reading!