One of the greatest things about living in New York City in your twenties is that you don’t have to know who you are or who you want to be. You can try on different lives until you find one that fits. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve always been really big on reinvention. Every school year, new year, and birthday I would decide to be something, someone different. Not that I would become something I’m not, but the truth is, I didn’t really know who I was. Sometimes I’m still not sure I know. So I did, and continue to, try new personalities. Because at the very least, I will find out who I am not, and that’s just as important as knowing who you are.
Michelangelo said that he produced his sculptures by seeing the angel in the marble and carving away the stone until he set him free. He removed the not to find the true image beneath. And while some people seem to emerge from the womb in full possession of of themselves, knowing exactly who they are, I am not one of them. Day by day, I chip away the stone of not to discover what is. Not a singer, not a doctor, not a lawyer, or psychologist. More hippie than hipster, less fashionista than bargain-hunter, awkward over elegant. These are just a taste of what I have tried and discarded in my quest to reveal the angel in the marble.
But sometimes, you carve away what you think is a not, only to find that instead of a perfect angel, you’ve created a Venus de Milo. Beautiful, yes, but something is definitely missing. It may be that you never thought you were the girl to get the guy. Maybe you believed you were more wingman than leading man. One of my nots was “writer”. I did the whole school paper thing and while there were parts that I loved, I knew it wasn’t my thing. I’ve dabbled in fiction and poetry and was always dissatisfied with the results, so I set it aside. But I’ve always come back to it. Whether it’s the same story I revise over an over, the journal I’ve kept for ten years—wow, I didn’t even realize until now that it was that long—or this blog. Somehow this not refuses to be carved away.
The benefit of life over art is that while the Venus de Milo will never regain her limbs, carving away a not doesn’t remove it forever. You still have the option to add back what has been removed and missed. And as I go further with this blog, exploring the city and myself, I start to wonder if maybe while I’m trying on all these new hats, perhaps I should try on one that I discarded as wrong. After all, sometimes you just need to grow into things.