“Standing at the edge of my fears
And contemplating them
Is a healthy exercise.
The extent of the boundaries
Of who I believe myself to be.
What is in question as I stand
Safely at the border of myself
And think of leaping
Or continuing on?
What happens when I walk
To the extent of “I”
And then keep walking?
Who am I then?”
― Eric Overby,
I assume parents tell you who they desire YOU to be, or maybe children follow their footsteps and become mini-versions of their makers because that’s how they want to be. Children turn into teenagers and become young adults, but parental guidance doesn’t stop. I watched with awe as friends of mine, students, and neighbor kids still were raised and pointed in the right direction, when they already were young adults.
I turned eighteen, became legally an adult, and didn’t know anything. My grandma, who raised me had passed away, and my parents, who were busy drinking, had not been in my life for many years. There was no advice, other than the words, values, and morals that had been imprinted in my mind by my grandmother, by the nuns who helped raise me, by teachers, and many other adults.
I was allowed to vote but didn’t know how to file my taxes or buy a car or purchase insurance. I didn’t know how to balance a checkbook or make my money last for a whole month, because in Austria you get paid every 1st of the month. There was so much I feared, so much I didn’t know.
Free as a bird, ready to fly with no place to land, no nest to turn back to. What kind of adult was I supposed to be?
As a child it’s easy, they teach us right from wrong. We learn how to be kind, we say “please” and “thank you” and under the right guidance, we become kind, stay honest, and show gratitude. We get corrected and sometimes punished when we do wrong. A little bit of time-out or a solid spanking, are all meant to help us become who THEY wish us to be.
Was I meant to be the shining light at every party, or the quiet observer standing in the back? Was it alright for me to be outspoken, or was it rude when I questioned what I didn’t understand -or challenged what I thought didn’t make sense?
Was I disrespectful or thoughtful?
I was a confused young adult who understood that any wrong move could have consequences for my lifetime.
What happens when you walk to the extent of “I”?
I became a translator and interpreter because I could continue to observe. I stayed hidden, when I spoke they were not my words, not my thoughts, I was just the bridge, bringing people together who couldn’t understand each other together.
I watched people and over time I knew who I wanted to be. I had painted a picture of a woman I didn’t know but longed to meet.
There were many fears and I had to overcome risks I would have rather not taken, and mistakes I wished to undo the second I made them. There was laughter when I explored myself, and some tears as well.
On the edge of “I”, who am I?
Now I know!
I think I found her!