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  • Lindsey Van Wagner

Thoughts on being and identity

I sit down to observe my being, thoughtfully considering my identity.


There is a patch sewn in to my hat to represent my favorite band. I can meditate in the sand wearing this hat because even as someone interested in a yogic lifestyle, I am still allowed to enjoy loud punk rock concerts.


That may seem unfamiliar to the Lindsey that revels in quiet nights reading literature, with incense burning in the background.


But no one ever said I have to pick just one.


And just because I teach yoga does not mean I am always in that “Kumbaya My Lord” frame of mind...


The hat is a camouflage pattern, an allusion to war and violence and hunting, but I can wear this hat and still choose to eat vegan and not cause harm to animals.

I used to think we had to live in the black OR white, the spaces of always and never. Realizing that we can be different things, maybe even opposing things at times, has been a tough truth to reconcile.


We don’t just choose one identity and then let all subsequent decisions rely on and align with that schema of being - we don’t create matter to only one form or shape that will perfectly fill that pigeonhole.


You don’t have to be ALL glamour or ALL Tomboy. Most times I don’t wear makeup at all, embodying my natural being, and then some nights I wear eyeliner to try to feel pretty.

I am allowed to like being outside in nature, completely disconnected and off the grid, while other times the only thing I want to do is sit inside surrounded by my 21st century luxuries - a fan blowing on me. Netflix. Scrolling through Instagram.


I am sober and I still like going to bars on occasion. I can be both introverted and brazen all at the same time. Maybe I am in the mood to talk for hours on end about the most tautological of ideologies, concepts, and philosophical theories.


Or maybe I don’t want to talk at all. To anyone. For days. (In these particular moments of isolation I can’t remember how/why I was ever so communicative and bubbly. How I could ever feel so human. I just have to trust that Lindsey to come back soon.)


Sometimes I want to feel smart and studious and serious, relying on research and evidence and the scientific method. Then again I know that science can only take us so far - that certain phenomena go beyond the limits of the tidy explanations produced by our rational minds.


This is when the artist deep in me emerges, when I find myself writing about birds and sunsets and scars.


At certain moments I want to share how I feel - paint the colors of my day for all the world to see and hear and feel. And other times I want to keep it all in, let it process, let it download. Let myself recover in order to uncover.


I am independent and at the same time I need my people, my support system, human connection - to strengthen this independence and autonomy. We are independent creatures capable of so much on our own, yet also dependent on one another. We live in a series of paradoxes.


I don’t have to analyze these different parts of me, which often seem to live in contradiction - wondering why they clash the way they do. Nor do I have to try to change them. We don’t have to define what we are or why we are. By trying to fit ourselves into boxes, we limit our wonder.


We limit our dreams and our abilities and our longings for curiosity and exploration. It’s like water. Don’t be the water that is held in a closed container in the fridge. Safe. Undisturbed. No. Don’t be that. Be a stream of water and let yourself flow to all of the edges. Let yourself overflow. Drip and seep into the places you’ve never been.


We are ephemeral and our states are ephemeral. Every moment is new. Transient.

All of us are individually made up of our own set of different parts, we are all diamonds with a million sides, each facet reflecting the images all around us. A diamond doesn’t wonder why it is shining or what it is shining. It doesn’t try to hide any of its sides. It just sits and reflects. We all have these different slices and sides that represent our scenery, the colorful people, the multitude of variant sounds.


So be you - all of the parts, all of the sides, all of the pieces.




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