Emily is interning with Sanctuary for Families.
Growing requires changing, whether it’s a lot or little. Changing requires taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone. That often involves making tough decisions. As a creature of habit, I’ve never been a huge fan of change. I just find it easier to stick with what you know. But the Moxie Project is not going to allow me to stick with what I know. Sure, I came in expecting to learn about myself but as I’m sure we have all experienced before, expectations don’t always match results. I never considered learning about myself might result in a conflict between what I used to believe and what I now believe. After 21 years of thinking I know myself, it’s hard to accept I may be changing.
It was the first reflection dinner when it happened. It, being the realization I was heading down a road that is different and unfamiliar from where I had come from. At this dinner we played a game where our supervisor read a statement and we moved to sides of the room which indicated whether we agreed or disagreed with that statement. One statement read, “I consider myself a feminist.” I was one of two out of a group of ten who stood on the “Disagree” side. I began to feel an emotion I wasn’t comfortable with. It was as if everyone was speaking in a foreign language and I was the only one who didn’t understand it.
That sense of isolation followed me home that night and still remains with me. On one hand, I’m glad I can be strong enough to be honest about where I stand in my beliefs. On the other hand, it’s difficult feeling like I don’t quite fit in with the rest of the group.
I began writing in my journal that evening and before I knew it I had 5 pages filled with thoughts, many of them I had no idea I possessed. At that moment, I started to think, could this sense of isolation be just what I needed to push myself to grow? Uncomfortable, yes, but it forced me to navigate through the compartments of my mind where I was letting ideas gather dust. In the past it was easier to just not decide what I thought about controversial issues such as feminism. But I was now being confronted with them, whether I liked it or not. The hardest part was the recognition that what I used to think may not match what I’m beginning to think. Uh-oh. Looks like I need to start making some serious decisions. Sure, I want to grow and I know that requires change, but I was comfortable with who I thought I was. Or am I?
I think this resistance to change lies at the root of the biggest struggles I have here in New York. And feeling like I don’t quite fit in doesn’t help. Not only am I struggling with redefining and solidifying my beliefs, but I also struggle with maintaining relationships with friends and family both here and at home. It’s so easy to get caught up with the discussions, work, and fun events that are happening here that I often find myself shoving relationships back home (and some here) down a few rungs on my priority ladder. But when I do, I can see evidence of how I’m changing. I find myself discussing topics I wouldn’t have wanted to discuss before and thinking in ways I’m not used to thinking. In these moments I have to stop myself and wonder, do I really want to head in the direction I’m going?
Obviously I’m not going to resolve this issue in a blog post. It’s going to take time. And more reflection. And risk-taking. And decision-making. If only you could hear my groaning through the Internet. But it’s a good thing, I think. Learning to take risks and step outside my comfortable bubble is going to push me to become the person I want to be.
I realize it’s likely I may never adopt the exact same beliefs as everyone in my program or as my family and friends. But I want to continue challenging myself to really listen to the many different perspectives of members of this Project, as well as individuals outside this Project, and remain open-minded to the idea that I might decide to reform my beliefs, or not. And either way, it’s okay. It’s okay to disagree. It’s okay to believe what I believe because my experiences may be different from someone else’s.
I guess I should brace myself for a long summer still as I send myself down this bumpy road of balancing my own needs to redefine my identity with my relationships with others that I value so highly. It won’t be easy as it requires more risk-taking and more changing. But I’ll accept the challenge. Looks like I’m making progress already, at least a little.