One of the things that constant rejection does to you, other than making you sad and angry, is question who you are.

I went down some pretty dark roads between May last year and April this year. In the constant battle with all the challenges I was faced, with one recurring question kept staring back at me .

“When everything is completely stripped away, who am I?”

Let me give some context. In 2012, when I initially got admitted to the University of Michigan, it was ranked 18th overall globally by the Times Higher Education. By 2013 when I finally started school, it had dropped to 21st. But, as far as the actual program I was going to study, it was still top 5 in the US. So by all means, I was going to a world class institution, to study for a very respectable master’s degree in energy and sustainability.

Fast forward to May 2015 when I was graduating. Even though I hadn’t gotten the kind of internship I had wanted the summer before, I had been involved in some pretty intriguing research looking at sustainable manufacturing in less developed countries. My master’s project team had done some very valuable work with a Native American sovereign nation in northern Michigan; consulting for them on their future renewable energy and energy efficiency goals. I had built up a pretty decent network of professional contacts and had amazing rapport with my professors. And, though not as important, had gotten pretty decent grades all through grad school. So, for all intents and purposes, I was set to enter the job market and land a pretty decent job in “not too long”.

L.O.L.

What do you do when none of the things you value works for you? What do you do when all around you, people seem to be succeeding and you’re stuck in a rut? What do you do when there’s literally nothing you can do to make your situation better?

All these questions were playing “Spin the Bottle” in my head. I went from trusting God, to being upset with Him, to begging Him, to giving Him space, to running back to Him and having a SERIOUS heart to heart.

But again, and again, that question of who I really was kept coming up. When money was SCARCE and I had to constantly rely on friends and family to help. When I had to go without when none of the folks I would ask for help could help. When every door seemed to shut in my face or go unanswered. When the fact that I was an international student became my biggest liability. When it seemed like things were only getting worse. When my friends and loved ones couldn’t help me feel better because their words and acts of love couldn’t ‘really’ change my situation. It always came back to the question,

“When everything is completely stripped away, who am I?”

Not to sound cheesy or anything, but what saw me through my darkest days. What kept me on track. What made me continue applying for those jobs after every “No” before the eventual and only “Yes” was this answer,

“I am a son of the Most High; loved and cherished by Him.”

That’s probably not the answer you were expecting. Heck, I don’t think it was the answer I wanted at the time as well. But in the simplicity of that answer lay ALL the truth I needed to press on. Because if my privilege and prestige, my intellect, my connections, my family, my friends, if none of these things could get me what I wanted, then well, I might as well go to the One who said He would always love me no matter what I was going through.

So, rediscovering my identity, not in the external things I could easily hold on to, but in an “abstract ideology” is definitely one of the biggest things I have come out of the crucible with. I know who I am in Christ, and NOTHING can take that away from me.

I am thankful for my identity.

Featured Image Source:  soulshepherding.org

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