I wouldn’t say I’m a rebel, but I do find myself getting stuck in situations when I have no choice but to be myself despite feeling pressure to fit in. Whether at work, with friends, with those closest to you, with family. Because the result of fitting in sometimes leads to losing your identities. By identities I mean: those very facts of who you are and what you are.
I’ve experienced tremendous pain in hiding who I am. That pain was doubled by the fact that I was young and didn’t know how to process it. Tripled by my family not being there for me, not that they would have been helpful if they were there. Quadrupled by extreme isolation. The last one- may be the reason why I still struggle with being alone or being by myself. The very thought of it brings excruciating anxiety.
In Chicago, I find it hard to not feel isolated. I often find myself opportunities to empathize and not be on the receiving end. Most of the time, I brush it off. It is my chameleon-like ability to snake through various circles, feel out of it, but still put in effort to enjoy my time while I’m at it.
Situations don’t faze me anymore, but sometimes they trigger painful memories. These days I am more able to regulate, process, and get rid of negative thoughts that serve no purpose but for a downward spiral.
I chose to be here, and this is what it takes. Finally, after 8 years of pain, I finally know how to BE in Chicago. I’m not saying it’s easy. I just know how to do it now. Pain is pain, but, in psychological terms, I know how to cope with it.