Stage Center

What defines me?

So often in this society, I have found that occupation more often than not answers this.

Working in a drive thru coffee shop has given me the opportunity to study those in my surroundings.

Often i’ll ask, “what are you up to today, anything fun?”

And they will respond with a grumbled, “no.”

“Oh, me neither!’ I joke, “what do you do?”

What do you do? Not, what do you do for a living, or how do you make your money? But what do you do. 

I’m retired. I work at a bank. I’m a mom.

I’ve never been asked this question. Someone once asked me what I did outside of work to which I responded with, “I’m  a student.” I always fell back on that answer because it was something I was so proud of; working full time and being a full time student at the university one town over. But then graduation day came; and as I standing in my bathroom of my studio apartment built above my in-law’s garage, it hit me. Panic. Who i am? What am i, if no longer a student? How will I define my success from this moment forward?

When we got to the graduation ceremony, I walked in with my head held high. I said my goodbyes to my boyfriend and family and proceeded to the line-up area. Descending downstairs, I walked into my own personal Hell. As I looked around at all the smiling faces taking selfies and posing with their friends. I knew no one. My heart started to pound as I felt heat surge across my cheeks and warm tears filled my eyes. One deep breath and I had composed myself just enough to ask a line marshall where I was supposed to be.

“Just find someone you know, look for a friend from your classes!” She told me, blind to the fear in my eyes. I continued forward. Weaving my way through decorated hats and too high of heels, until I found another line marshall. I asked the same question; where  was I supposed to be? He asked what my major was and I told him Liberal Arts. “You guys don’t really have a spot…” he told me, flipping through his clipboard. “Just keep walking down that hall and you’ll be in the right place…  Hey,” he said, as my eyes once again welled up with tears, more of embarrassment than anything. “It doesn’t really matter where you are, its just so the lines are even. Lighten up and enjoy this day, kid, you worked for it.”

There was no set spot, no assigned seats. Just a reality I had made up where I wasn’t in the correct place.

Stage Center

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ISO 100 5.6 1/40

I struggle to tell people “I’m a photographer, I really love photography.” Because I am so afraid of letting anyone tell me that I’m not, or that I can’t.

What defines me? The things I do or the people I met? The relationships I have or the things I have experienced?

Maybe its all of it. A combination of all the things manifested into one moment of just being.

Why do I need one word to sum the complex person I am? How fair is that?