Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Becoming Something

Flying through the air, I jumped to my father's arms outstretched over the water.

Flying through the air, I jumped to be beat the girl next to me in a state finals heat.

Somewhere between these two moments of airtime, I became a swimmer. A competitive swimmer. I was a sprint freestyler. Somewhere in the millions of wet yards, a transformation occurred.

Some search for it their entire lives, some find it early in life and then want to break out of it. Others like me fall into it, looking back wondering if I didn’t feel it because I was covered with water.

Oceans of literature teem with stories of characters coming-of-age, searching for their heritage, searching for stability, searching for identity. I've read a lot of books, and I've often wondered if I was searching for something. Did I have a stable identity? Should I be plagued with a sense of loss as a teenager because I needed to find myself? While these may have been important, I usually had to leave them on deck when I dove into swim practice.

Then it occurred to me: I am something; I don't just do something. I am a swimmer. Somewhere between my two weightless moments I went from being able to swim, to being a swimmer. The evolution from a verb to a noun is an important signifier of the real distance I had covered, not measurable in yards. Owning something to a point that I can't separate myself from that "thing" brings a sense of confidence and meaning to my life. While my religious beliefs obviously give life in general meaning, a tangible validation sure pushes me towards success in swimming and other areas.

While I can't remember when I wasn't a swimmer, the newest addition to my identity has attached much more recently. As I just graduated and looked back at my college education, I was granted another realization that added to my personal dimension.

I am a writer. I am a professional communicator. I am a designer.

Until that moment, I only thought I could write, could produce professional documents, could design pages.

Granted, there's no doubt that I have room to progress. Orson Scott Card said that college doesn't really teach you anything, it just teaches you how to learn. And rightly so, I have become something, not learned everything. I have become a writer, looking forward to learning to write better now that I have the confidence to do what it takes to do so.