I recently discovered this piece that I wrote but never published last year. It seems to go hand-in-hand with our last post on Community, so this feels like the right time to release it into the world. — w
There are many versions of Whitney.
There’s the introvert, who can easily go days on end without leaving the house or speaking to another soul.
There’s “college Whitney” – the opposite of the latter – who could run on all-cylinders for 18 straight hours and be best friends with everyone.
There’s “tiger mom Whitney” – the Korean han is real.
Then there’s Jeon Hyun-Ah, who has her own other million versions of herself.
The list goes on and on.
Sounds pretty manic, right?
When I first found the Korean adoptee community, I was on my way to a new version of myself – a version I’d argue to be the truest Whitney. I had lived 20+ years disconnected from this part, so the sudden discovery felt like a lightning bolt. I eased in as gracefully as I could, which to be honest, was probably about as graceful as a bull in a china closet.
A year after my first introduction to the community, I was taking baby steps, though they felt like huge, scary strides. I attended an adoptee conference, where I met the man who would eventually become my husband. I was still trying to find my place in this new world, still feeling uncomfortable in this new skin, still awkward and unsure of myself. But I was putting the work in, determined to grow and learn and stretch myself and what I considered to be comfortable. I was asking hard questions of both myself and those around me for the first time in my life. I was all out there – take me or leave me. I was this crude (not in the obscene way), very rough-around-the-edges work in process, but it was liberating. Because it felt like I had dug in far enough, cleared the cobwebs, sanded away the caked-on grit, and finally found the true Whitney.
When I returned home from that weekend to “reality” – work and school – I was talking with a mentor. I was hemming and hawing about a guy I met over the weekend. He seemed great, but Pennsylvania was so far from Tennessee. He ______, but _______ . There was a “but” for everything. However, the final was, “…but I feel like he has seen and legitimately appreciated the part of me – the truest part of me – that almost no one else on this planet has ever seen before.” That “but” became the only one that mattered. Thank God for that mentor who stopped me in my tracks and said, “Did you hear what you just said? The rest doesn’t matter. Don’t be an idiot. You have to take a chance on this relationship.”
I did. It obviously worked out. We’ll soon be celebrating 5 years of marriage.
In that time, I have still been working on myself, on this “new” version of Whitney that has still been coming to the surface, surprising me with new facets of her personality and character from time-to-time, just out of the blue.
Sometimes it still feels uncomfortable. Sometimes it still feels like that new skin. But it is so deeply satisfying to know that it is indeed my truest form and that it is loved and supported by the same man who saw and chose that version of Whitney those years ago. (And has suffered every other version who has come out to play from time-to-time.) Who asks me tough questions and helps me through the refining process. Who helps to stretch and grow me when it’s necessary, but also knows when I’ve been stretched enough for that given time.
He and I have both been surprised by new, true Whitney. She is pretty fierce, pretty bold, pretty loud. She knows what she likes and doesn’t. She knows what she can stand and what she won’t abide. She calls things as she sees them. She is OK leaving the past in the past, especially those old relationships, when people can’t handle all of the personality that comes along with her. She is sometimes still scared, but doesn’t let her fear keep her from standing (or sitting, or kneeling) when she feels the pull on her heart and that little voice saying, “Move.” She is still learning a lot about herself.
She is Whitney in the truest form.
Thank God she has finally found herself and her tribe.
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