The notion of “self” is an odd one. The idea that we as people can be completely summed up into this one entity is so abstract, so indefinite that it’s hard to grasp on to. People make entire careers, base all of their goals, and develop views of the world based solely on the idea of one’s self, but how do we really know that our concept of our self is the right one?
Lots of people have looked at my bridge year as a ways of me finding my “self”, of me developing this concrete idea of who I am and what my role in the world is. That, to some extent, is true, but over the course of Pre-Departure Training I have gained an even greater understanding of “self” and how these next eight months in Ecuador play into that. I will NOT be finding myself.
It is my belief that you cannot find yourself by actively seeking. By searching we often become clouded by frustration and determination. I feel the self isn’t something we are born with and we only learn to understand it through life experience. Every situation, every interaction that I have had since August 6th, 1996 at 5:55pm has been apart of me and my development of self. Only by actually living and embracing this journey I am now on will I best continue along with my discovery of who I am.
Over these next eight months I will love another family as deeply as I love my own. I will become as much of a member of a new community as I am apart of my own. I will participate in minga. I will sit on the front porch with my host dad in the evenings and help my host mom prepare breakfasts on busy mornings. I will try and also miserably fail several times to carry on a conversation completely in Spanish with a stranger, but it’s okay- I’ll learn eventually. I’ll be made fun of for being a gringa that dresses funny and has a weird accent, but all of these things will lead to me asking questions and those questions will lead me to seek understanding in not only myself but also in the world around me as well.
So no, I will not be finding myself and discovering all of the answers this year. Instead, I will be discovering all of the questions, living them out, and hopefully preparing myself to live right on into the answers one day, and for me that is infinitely more valuable.