Labels can feel limiting and can help perpetuate stereotypes. Like when you hear the word “pastor” and conclude that the person is Type A controlling. I mean, it’s kinda true but must there be a sting?
Labels can also be freeing.
That’s what I’ve experienced over the last couple of months as I’ve attempted to regularly unpack community, one of my core values, through writing. It has now become the exploration of life as a third culture kid. It’s really K’s fault.
K and I met in photography class our Freshmen year of college. We attended a Liberal Arts school in Southwest Michigan and as we were figuring out what to major in, we both took Intro to Photography. We are also both black with the last name Lawrence, so we were a bit more motivated to get to know each other. Finding out both our dads are Jamaican, got us questioning if, indeed, we may be cousins. We have yet to achieve full clarity on that point. We have achieved more clarity on the writing front and, for now, that’s more important.
In June of this year, we decided to intentionally help each other figure out and stick to our writing goals. During one of our weekly check-ins, I confessed that while I like people and while community is a core value, I so often want to be alone and have to talk myself into accepting a friend’s invitation to hang out. My writing the day before had specifically ended this way:
The community I crave and attempt here and there to create and retain isn’t as evident as I’d hoped. Am I not working hard enough to establish and keep it? Am I expecting too much for my stage of life? Is it closer than I think? If it existed in a way I could clearly identify and celebrate, what would that look like?
I don’t know. Truth is, I want more time to myself.
How is it that I want something, need something, yet block it?
As I explained this to Karla, she laughed, co-signed on my introverted way, and then gave me an assignment based on her own writing research. “Write on the following prompt,” she suggested. “Tell me about your relationship with friendship growing up.”
The next day’s writing time is the most painful writing time I’ve experienced in a while. The words flowed. The painful part was the content which was both surprising and sad. My history of friendship quickly revealed itself as a history of loss.
Have you been doing any life exploration lately? Maybe you’re using writing, too. Where has your journey taken you so far? Check back for installments of “Figuring It Out” at least twice a week. Share the link with a friend.