“…only in loving the world, friends, can we change it.”
Hello, friends! My name is Taylor.
When I was in college, I changed my major from psychology to English education. It was a monumental move that allowed me to grow into the lady I am today. However, before making that switch, I was in a relatively small sociology course. The exact title of the course escapes me, but I remember distinctly the icebreaker activity. In my sophomore year of undergrad, I was dog-dead tired and attempting to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, without having to socialize… at all.
With a prompt like that as an icebreaker activity, the aggravated introvert in me was not happy. Each member of the class, maybe around twenty-five of us in total, were instructed to stand up and describe ourselves.
Although I was in the back of the class, I was in the first “row.” This translated to being chosen to attempt the grandiose assignment of describing myself. I juggled all the “roles” I held: student, psych major, sister, ice cream shop worker, paper writer, waitress, daughter, over-it.
When it was my turn to share, I chose a couple of those roles to address, after the obligatory “Hey, I’m Taylor” intro. I went with something along the lines of: “oldest of four girls,” “ice cream scooper,” “sophomore,” “current psych major”, and then faked a fast smile and sat down, quickly.
Essentially, everyone in the room had some sort of variation. We had athletes, trumpet players, education majors, exchange students, and a couple of adult learners thrown into the mix.
After that last sharee sat down, our instructor thanked us for our time and offered something to the class that I have never forgotten.
“It is human nature,” she started, “to describe yourself with your titles.”
“How you contribute to society, where you fit in your family, the ‘roles’ you have. It is something that has always fascinated me about us humans. Notice, no one shared they were ‘upbeat’ or ‘pessimistic’. When offering descriptions of ourselves, we stay away from using adjectives. However, isn’t that really what we are wanting to know when asking someone about themselves? Your birth order, I don’t care about. What I do want some insight on is whether or not you are a passionate person or if you are a calm in a storm.” She continued, the class responding with blank stares.
While our blank stares would continue with great frequency throughout the class, her beginning lecture on description was something that always stood out to me. I revisited it over the years, pondering whether I dared to share my adjectives rather than my roles, when describing myself to others.
Ultimately, I never did. Up until now.
Although I didn’ have an answer for my then-instructor as to why humans naturally led with their “roles”, I think I might have the start of one now.
Student, psych major, sister, ice cream shop worker, paper writer, waitress, daughter: all these words offered a description of how I navigated the world, back then. In a similar concept to placement, these were spatial locations that I held.
What I have noticed so far, though, is that it is so very easy to let these roles overtake you and define you. For example, I’ve had a lot of practice at being a sister. A large part of my identity is in being one, but the adjectives I’ve gained from this role are far more important than the role itself! Because of this role: I am dependable, I am protective, I am loving.
However, there is some fear wrapped around claiming this, right? The idea of telling you that I am dependable sets me up for failure in a way. What will my audience think if I assure them my self-description is rooted in my dependability, and then I mess up? I forget to hit “publish” on this week’s post, for example. My dependability will be ruined!
Now, honestly, I would say one screw up wouldn’t compromise your entire understanding of my dedication to you all, but it’s rooted in the back of my mind at times.
Also, and more important than the fear of failure, claiming our descriptors as characteristics rather than roles is clean cut. Sharing with you that I am a writer, rather than I am enthralled by the nuances of the written word, allows for a categorization of myself. Just like the roles are spatial in that there is a clear path from me (hello) to my aspirations (writing), the way I interact with the world can be organized and clean-cut by using the lens of “writer.” “Writing” is linear. Being “enthralled by the nuances of the written word?” Well, that’s a little messy.
So, bringing this topic full circle: How does this relate to my blog and why you are here?
In February 2019, I decided to change my life. In my life prior, I stopped dreaming. I stopped writing. Metaphorically, I was at a point where I looked at myself in the mirror, shrugged, and offered a “this’ll do” to the reflection, then went to the next obligation that I had in the day.
So, I decided to tailor my own life so that every damn thing I did was an act of love for myself.
Rest assured, I am still growing and evolving. And I’m at the point where I want you to do it with me.
In the last year, I’ve started waking up two hours earlier to meditate and journal. I’ve invited new opportunities of movement in my life. I’ve gotten a raise, read more than I ever had before, gone on solo trips, started softening my self-talk, and now I am writing for the world to see.
Before, I was a “sister,” a “manager,” a “teacher,” “a single young woman” and “a cat-lover.”
Now, I am all those things and I have tailored my life so that I own being “fierce,” and “passionate,” “inquisitive, and “pensive” and, above all else, a “world changer.”
I have a theory. I have a theory that loving yourself leads to loving your neighbor. Although I never realized it before, the judgements I hurled at other people (almost always unspoken, but there- nonetheless) reflected the constant inner-critique I had about myself. Loving myself has allowed me to love others in different ways than last year. Respecting other people’s boundaries because I finally started respecting my own is one example of this. Loving myself has led to me fully loving my neighbor, more and more. Another layer to theory: loving your neighbor leads to authentically loving your community. Authentically loving your community? You can authentically love the world and only in loving the world, friends, can we change it!
Changing the world is a lofty goal. Bear with me here, friend. My current speciality is not within the massive revolution of policy changes or rebellions. My speciality is in some daily revolutionary pondering. That’s what I want to share with you. “Tayloring” my own life to be a constant awakening of beauty and appreciation has made me a better person. What are some ways you might want to “Taylor” your own?
Click below to read more about who I am and posts detailing how I have “taylored” my life. I would love nothing more than for you to comment in order to broaden and deepen our community! Every Tuesday, a weekly musing will be shared. Subscribe below!