“…identity and action are intrinsically bound to each other.”
Chasing Elephants
(pg 91) by Brent Crowe

I’ve been doing some very deep introspection lately. The kind that tends to tear you apart inside and look at all those ugly places you’d rather ignore. It’s a daunting task. Exhausting and brutal. It can cause one to become internally abusive to ones self, as I am prone to do pretty frequently.

This introspection was stirred in a deep state of emotional tenderness. Which made it all the more difficult. It started with trying to identify why I was feeling so tender lately. Why does everything hurt so much? Why is it that I feel so feeble and out-of-sorts? Seeking became a necessity. My empathy heightened much to my disapproval. I started listening more to people even if it was painful to listen. That was the point of introspection wasn’t it? To listen. To ones self. To others about ones self? To seek people who are mirrors and reflect pieces of yourself back at you?

I began to realize things more and more about myself. Which is what you should discover when being introspective, because if you’re not then you aren’t doing it right. I began to think about my identity. A subject brought on by the book Chasing Elephants I quoted above. There is a segment on homosexuality and the Bible, which is a deeply controversial area in Chritian circles and one people have debated over centuries. Homosexuality is not my struggle, but it is someone’s, and I began to think of my own struggles in relationship to my own life. How that affected me. What it all meant.

Today I got some feedback at the Type Museum from my mentor. She told me after I gave a demo of a Vandercook printing press to a couple visitors “You called the press a printer.” She seemed like I should know better so I expressed my confusion. “Emily, the machine is the press. You are the printer. It can’t do jack shit without you.”

I did a lot of thinking while I was on that press. I asked myself if I have been feeding myself the lie that my identity is not what I do?  Somehow I had been the person who thought I was something outside of what I do. Not that I don’t take responsibility for what I do, but that somehow it wasn’t as important as who I was. I thought who I was defined what I did. Not what I did defined who I was. Turns out both are halves of the whole. What I invest into myself through my repeated actions was just as important as what I did to feed into myself in the first place. It was circular. Connected. Not separated or segmented, but the completion of both my actions and my identity.

All my roles as a Christian, designer, printer, Visual Merchandise Coordinator, sister, daughter, friend, and girlfriend all coexsisted in the manifestation of the one and all found ways to feed into each other. I was whole because of my parts, and my parts were made from my actions. I am a Christian because I actively believe in Christ and study God’s word to know more. I am a designer because that is what I chose to be, was trained to become, and what I actively do. I am a printer because it is what I actively do as a role in the Museum. I am a sister because I have siblings I care for. I am a daughter because I have parents I actively care for. I am a girlfriend because I fell in love and choose to continue to fall in love with my boyfriend. I do those actions. I do those relationships. I am both the noun and the verb. Therefore I am identified.

This is very new to me, but very refreshing to realize. I’m still figuring it out. I’m still learning how it all works together. Where it doesn’t work so well together. How to change those parts. It will take some getting used to. It will take some pain and perhaps a change in long set habits, but it will happen. I know that much.


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