‘I’m on the hunt for who I have not yet become.’
I had a quiet dinner out with my young adult daughter last night- a rarity on busy weeknights. She finished her undergrad work last December and will start graduate school in the fall- but for right now, she is existing in that space between where she used to be, and that place up ahead that she cannot yet see.
She shocks me as she passionately talks about everything from politics and world peace, to entitlement and the narcissism that the generation known as the Millennials are being labeled with- I suddenly realize that there is so much about her I don’t know. It is like there is a whole new human being within her that I am just meeting for the first time.
At 18, she did exactly what she should have- she packed her bags and headed out into the world. After her high school graduation, she worked part time and hit the books in college. Although she came back to our home a lot during those four years, and we saw each other weekly (usually several times), last night as we shared a deep, long conversation, it was clear that the girl who walked out our front door four years ago, was not the young woman who was sitting in front of me last night.
The momma in me feels a little bit desperate- like I want to cup my hands around my mouth and yell as hard as I can down the long hallways of time- asking my 8 year old pig-tailed little one to show herself to me, just one more time… but I know she is gone- and has been replaced by the pleasantly challenging young woman who sits before me astutely questioning the world around her.
The therapist in me knows what is going on- its called differentiation. She is holding herself away from who and what she used to be. Differentiation is not just for the young. It is a psychological right of passage that we all pass through many times in our lives. In order to survive as autonomous human beings, we are constantly being forced to enter into the dance- learning to move from ‘me’ to ‘we’ and then back again.
Sometimes growth comes because the ‘me’ resists the ‘we’- and at other times growth comes because the ‘me’ dissolves and becomes part of the ‘we.’ That back and forth- the learning how to stand alone when we must, and to merge when we can- is the toggle of a lifetime.
It dawns on me that the vehicle of her life had switched lanes at some point- she had put her blinker on, and safely moved from the ‘we’ lane I had raised her in, into the ‘me’ lane that is a straight shot toward her future.
I imagine as we travel on through our relationship, that from time to time we will again share expanses of time where we can enjoy the ‘we’ lane together- but for now, she is alone-out on the open road… and my job is not to chase her or beg her to come back….
She is on her way to who she has not yet become. I can’t wait to see her arrive.