the world around us


photo by lillian lapointe

Nature has always been a big part of my life. I’ve always been grounded in it, or at least attempted to be. Whether hiking, walking with my dog, digging in my garden, or simply being outside, it has always been a massive part of who I am. And, through all this time outside, I came to realize that nature can teach us a lot, not only about itself but also about ourselves.
Nature changes constantly. It changes with the seasons, the weather, the time of day, the amount of water, and more. To me, it is silly to think that we, too, don’t do that. That we are the exception in nature. We have this idea that we are who we are from birth and that our identities are set in stone from day one, when in reality, it’s dynamic, just like everything else around us. We are supposed to change, just like nature does. It’s a natural part of life. Our identities and who we are, aren’t set in stone from day one. It’s fluid, flexible, and ever-changing.
Nature, too, can help us learn about things as a whole. One singular idea doesn’t make up the natural world. It’s many small things working together. Identity, too, is like that. Similar to the dot-to-dot in the corner, your identity isn’t defined by one singular dot but rather by the whole image that is created by all of the tiny dots.
People get in this mindset that one idea defines them, that one thing makes up who they are, how people see them. And although it is valid to feel this way, it isn’t the truth. Identity is compromised of so many small things, all coming together to create the full picture.
Throughout my life, I have struggled a lot with this idea. I’ve always thought I would know who I was, who I wanted to be. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. Who I am now is not who I was when I was 12, nor is it who I will be when I’m 30. And that’s okay. That’s natural. You are supposed to change throughout your life as your experiences and thoughts shape who you are.
Significant moments in my life have changed how I think. When I was little, I never imagined I would be here. I always thought I would have it all together, that I would be organized and on top of my game. That I would know exactly who I wanted to be. Because back then, I thought that I did. However, now that I am graduating and starting the next part of my life, I have to adjust who I am to deal with the fact that I will be in a different place, learning different ideas, and surrounded by different people. And through changing my thinking, my surroundings, and my location, my identity has also changed. The idea of who I wanted to be is altered, and although that is scary, it is also beautiful. I realized I can be whoever I want to be, even if that means it changes from year to year, from day to day.
Although I am always the same person, my thoughts and experiences are different daily, and those individual experiences and beliefs make up the complete picture of who I am. I don’t have the full picture yet, because it is ever-changing, but that is okay. It isn’t something that has to be categorized; that has to be defined. It is simply who you are, and if that changes, that’s valid.
Through spending time with nature, I have come to accept the scarier parts of myself—the ever-changing parts, the parts that are meant to be fluid. At first thought, these things are terrifying because it is admitting that you don’t know exactly who you are and who you want to be. But by observing the rest of the natural world–the trees, the flowers, the fungi, the bunnies–, I realized that this idea wasn’t scary at all. It was natural. I am supposed to change, grow, and adapt to life around me, whatever it may be in the moment.