New Year, New York

Hi friends.

I have recently moved to New York City. I love it here. The creative energy, the entrepreneurial spirit, the freedom, and the diversity here is amazing.

I mean, I found a fashion show on Pulsd, checked out a gorgeous loft in Tribeca, where I hope to be in September/October (God’s timing is everything) and found a designer who was cool enough to go with a rando to a fashion show afterward in the span of 24 hours. Where else would this happen? Maybe LA, but Reader, I didn’t even need to drive. Not once. Why deal with the hassle of traffic if you don’t need too?

Anyway, I got along with the designer, and her work is incredible. Shameless ploy to get her stuff out to the world here. My personal favorites are all visible on her insta: leighaantoniaart.

On Identity

I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting and thinking about who I am. Ever since the age of 5, I wanted to be a performer. I obnoxiously told people in High School to take my autograph, and keep it because, “I’m going to be famous someday.” Growing up in rural New Hampshire meant that my big personality was often, ‘a lot,’ (I was also, pretty obnoxious, which didn’t help) and I never truly felt like I belonged. Often, I was told that I was attention-seeking (valid feedback!) And, as a result, I often (tried unsuccessfully) to stand in the background, even though my heart wanted to perform.

As I grew up I became willing to sacrifice my dreams for others, specifically men. In the American Christian culture, I had internalized that one of the highest callings of a woman’s life is to be married and have children. Combined with that and a healthy dose of Disney Princesses and Prince Charmings, I chose to get married at eighteen, and became divorced five years later. When I started dating someone that told me my dreams of performing were selfish, I thought he was correct, and gave up my dream to teach because, ‘it would be better to start a family.’ Now, years later, I still think about performing, but have all this wonderful experience in education. You know what I don’t have? A family. You know why? I put my trust in men, who are fallible, rather than God, who is eternal.

What do we do when well-meaning people give us well-intentioned, but notably bad, advice? When is it valid to sacrifice your dreams for a partner?

As I write about my experiences, please remember that I am one person in a sea of people, and God has a plan, unique, and pertinent, specifically to you, so take what resonates, and throw out what doesn’t fit.

But here’s where I want to talk about identity.

Who we are is not contingent on where we are or where we come from.

Our environment has an impact on our effectiveness. God can certainly do whatever he wants, wherever he wants, but there’s a verse in the Bible that I’ve been digesting lately:

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

I want you to think about your body. Think about all of the different cells that make up your body. Think about, for instance, your toenail.

Would a cell from a toenail fit in if you took the same cellular structure and put it on your lip?

No. Nor would an eye cell survive if it’s placed on a knee. Obviously.

Our bodies are created with thousands of different types of cells that cohesively create one body. Just as the body is able to harmoniously produce what we need to exist, so we as people are meant to be around others. I think often of the neural cells and messenger system that is in our body, and wonder often if I could be that piece of the body of Christ- I love traveling and I love communicating, and I love connecting people. Days where I get to collaborate and create with others are days where I am happiest.

I have a close friend that is happiest in a structured environment where she is able to know exactly what is expected of her, and clock out. She is kind, and empathetic; overall, loves strategy. However, she would rather sit at home and read rather than go to a huge event to meet people (Great! Leave that to me!). Her role is important, and it is possibly because we are so different that we are able to be friends.

If people function differently than you do then the advice they may give to you may be well-intentioned, even wise, but it will never replace the divine intuition you walk in each and every day. Sometimes it’s better to be surrounded with similar people. Sometimes, different types of people need to work closely together to achieve goals. Sometimes the connections you need exist outside of your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to follow the divine intuition and put yourself in a situation where you will succeed.

Who we are is more than what we do.

All too often, we find our identity in jobs, relationships, ethnicities or friend groups. Often, in the United States, we talk about our job title, and we talk about our status as if it’s the most defining factor.

But, our identity goes deeper than that. There’s a verse, ‘eternity is written on the hearts of men,’ and who we are in the context of the community around us lives beyond our five senses. I propose that our identity stems from this sense of ‘divine connection,’ and this sense of ‘eternity.’ This is why relationships and creation can be so powerful- our connections will last even beyond our life here on Earth, and when we create, we can be instruments of the divine.

I think about the show E-True Hollywood Story! For those of you that haven’t seen it, it often documents the rise and fall of brilliantly creative performers, who eventually end up losing everything. In my opinion, this show encapsulates the depression and problems that can occur when we find our identity in what we do, rather than in our relationship with God, and ability to transcend time. When I think about God, I think of God as an all-knowing, all-loving father, who saw what was inside you and said, “it is good,” regardless of the circumstances surrounding you at any given time. Remember, God is not limited by time or space, and is connected like the internet. This love is shown in the way God sacrificed His Son to die once for humankind to reconcile mankind with Himself, and if you’re reading this, I want to encourage you to seek out God on your own, because I am one person, and am writing about my (limited) experiences, research, and relationship with the Divine.

Who we are is more than our past.

Sometimes I feel as though I lived a million lives in one body. There was a season where I attempted to be the perfect on-paper, sinless, spotless Christian, a season where I was thoroughly convinced I was doomed for eternity and lost myself in relationships, a season where I was convinced that ‘I could be the change I wished to see in the world and worked sixty hours a week trying to fix broken systems and structures, a season where I travelled wherever and whenever I wanted and now, a season as a CEO.

None of those seasons or titles impact who I am in my soul. My soul is eternal and whether I remained in the vagabond role (which I think was potentially one of my favorite seasons of life) or a CEO, I’m still me. My roles, and the box people attempt to put me in doesn’t impact the essence of my personhood, which I believe resides, ‘in heavenly places with Christ,” and is both here on Earth, and simultaneously, ‘a citizen of heaven.’

Defining our Intrinsic Value in a Capitalist System

While I was in college I used to work with people who had severe disabilities. I found myself admiring their perseverance, wonders, and personality styles. As I was reflecting, I had a horrible revelation- in a truly Ayn Randian, Capitalist system, these people may be looked at as value-less. After all, they need social programs. They aren’t making money, they are taking money.

And, I realized how detrimental attaching worth to the ability to produce can be, and how easy it is to fall into the trap of building transactional relationships. Every human is worthy, simply because they are part of this gloriously confusing, often audacious and marvelous existence and we have the privilege of interacting with them. I would go so far as to say that every human is valuable, simply because they are made in the divine image of God, whether or not we want to acknowledge that divinity.

Although our identity goes beyond this, sometimes it is helpful to define the values that resonate with our spirit. The book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson, helped me figure out which problems pissed me off, and align my actions with those values. Not intrinsically, my success doesn’t define me, but living a life aligned with my values definitely helps me create the life I want to live.

Beyond Capitalism and Into Jung

I love Marvel movies. I love them unashamedly, and I’ll go with my family to watch them all, from The Eternals to Spiderman to The Avengers.

But what makes the Marvel movies so attractive is this idea of heroism. Every culture has mythos that resonates with the human spirit, and we love to create heroes that help the underdog.

Carl Jung hypothesized that we have an innate desire to connect with others and that we look for archetypes within our stories. Here are some examples of his defined archetypes.

  • Anima: Symbolized by an idealized woman who compels man to engage in feminine behaviors
  • Animus: Woman’s source of meaning and power that both creates animosity toward man but also increases self-knowledge
  • Hero: Starting with a humble birth, then overcoming evil and death (like Spiderman).
  • Persona: The mask we use to conceal our inner selves to the outside world
  • Self: The whole personality; the core of the total psyche
  • Shadow: The psyche’s immoral and dark aspects
  • Trickster: The child seeking self-gratification, sometimes being cruel and unfeeling in the process
  • Wise old man: The self as a figure of wisdom or knowledge

Could it be possible that the near-universal love of Marvel Movies resonates with the innate archetypes Carl Jung observed? I personally think it is entirely probable, and that so many mythology stories resonate with us because we as human are on a subconscious search for meaning in the chaos of life.

Back To New York

Anyway, I’m in New York, and I love it here. So far, I have had way more time to reflect, more time to visit others, more time to learn, and somehow have gotten more work done. I am so grateful for the provision God has given me, and so grateful for my family and friends, both new and old, who are part of my journey, for ‘we know in part and prophesy in part,’ but part of having faith is stepping out and taking risks, even if you don’t know how things will pan out. And, I’m truly walking in faith that God has reasons for our seasons, and I am here for a purpose, even if that purpose is unfolding more slowly than I would like.

When people give you advice, they are looking through their limited lens. Nothing is impossible with God, and time is a construct that doesn’t impact Him, so He knows what happens to us simply because He lives outside of time. He knew about the bad advice and He knew about the mistakes you would make. And, that’s why we live in the promise of His grace- for truly, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. There is always hope beyond our situation.


2 thoughts on “New Year, New York

  1. Hey Alycia,

    Catherine lives in NYC. Let me know if you want to connect.

    Lauren Joyner ________________________________


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