When you get thrown into new experiences, your identity is risked.
You're in the vortex with all these new people, and it makes you wonder. You wonder if this is the time to make changes, subtle or great, to your personal identity. They don't know you, after all. You can be whoever you want. There's something tempting about that, but is it pragmatic? I don't know.
When I came to college, I started using my nickname almost exclusively. It was for the sake of simplicity, rather than a forced fresh start, but eventually all the lines start to blur. I did it because most people in San Francisco already knew me by a nickname, and I didn't want to have to juggle names and wonder who calls me what. But as time went on, I started to realize that people perceived that to be a purposeful shift in my identity. That I did it to become someone else, and ditched the old me back in the mountains. To be eaten by bears or coyotes or something. I view it as a shift, not a zero-sum game. It's not "all Frank" or "all Otter." It's bits of both.
That was the move to San Francisco. Now it's the move to Hong Kong. I was just as interested as anyone to see how I'd turn out, to see how people would view me. And at the start, there were some varying results. Some people thought I was exceptionally positive. Some people thought I'd always be the guy to be going out, exploring and hitting the nightlife. Some people thought I was a complete jerk. They're all right, in their season. But at the end of the day, all the changes that have happened to me have been so subtle, I can barely detect them. Little shifts, micro changes, making me more cynical, or hopeful, or misanthropic, or loving. It changes from day to day. I've loosened up a lot, but I've also hardened some of my viewpoints. I'm more keen on some experiences and far less on others. Some things are definitely different.
I'm still bitter in the morning, manic in the afternoon, stoic in the evening, and alive at night. I'm sleepy all the time and I'm generally hungry. I've always got a comeback armed and ready, and at least two cheesy references to back it up. I still think I'm a cowboy, but sometimes I talk too much. I probably won't make any drastic shifts, but there's still work to do. Still striving for self-actualization, getting closer every day.
I want to have the grace of Eric Clapton. The intelligence of Pete Townshend. The style of Jim Morrison. The business sense of Bill Graham. And I want to be uniquely, distinctly, me.
Even in all the chaos of Hong Kong.