I’ve been thinking a lot lately about identity and how we define ourselves by certain things that happen TO us in on our lives and less about who we are.
Maybe it’s because one of the most common questions we ask each other, upon meeting, is, ‘What do you do?’ as opposed to, ‘Who are you?’. Socially, we distinguish who someone is based more on what they do or where they live than what they believe in or stand for.
It first occurred to me when I was working in television, fighting my way up the industry ladder and all of a sudden it hit me.
I wasn’t happy.
Little signs and indicators had been popping up for a while, but I kept dismissing it as par for the course until I got ‘that job’. And then I got ‘that job’ and found myself in exactly the same position.
So, what does a girl do when she realises that all the drive and motivation and years of work towards a big life goal is suddenly over? Well, she finds a way to extricate herself from it immediately – and by immediately, I mean over the course of about two years.
You see, it wasn’t until I started inching away from my time working in TV that I realised how much I had tied my identity to it.
Even now, I still sometimes associate a little too much with my life working in television, even though I no longer have any aspirations in that field.
Not long after this realisation, I started coaching with my first ever coach and one of the preliminary questions was, ‘what are your strengths?’ – a question that took me HOURS to answer. I remember thinking to myself, who doesn’t know what they’re even good at?
One thing I knew for sure, I’d completely lost touch with who I was.
I’d spent so much time working towards a career goal, moving to a new city and establishing a life for myself, being in a relationship and allowing that to maybe take over part of my identity too that I’d somehow forgotten myself along the way.
Eventually, though, I realised this and I started taking giant leaps towards reconnecting with me. Starting with the basics of who am I and what am I good at? What do I want out of life and what do I stand for? Little by little, I started to peel back the layers and find myself tucked away under years of hiding away and trying to fit in.
You might know exactly what I’m talking about or you might be feeling the same, when you think about your career, your relationships, or your life in general.
‘This just isn’t me.’
You might get a twinge of discomfort when you find yourself in a conversation with friends or colleagues that doesn’t sit right with you.
We’re trained from a very young age that, socially, it’s important to fit in. Back in the cavewoman days, it was a basic survival requirement and it’s now just part of how we act in every day life.
But I much prefer the idea of being as much yourself as you possibly can be, and trusting that the people who love you, the opportunities you get, and the life you lead are because of being YOU and much less about who you pretend to be.
Or, as this beautiful quote goes:
“Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St Catherine of Sienna
Show up. Be 100% who you are. Don’t worry what other people think of you. Find the things that make you come alive. Live true to yourself.
What to do when you’ve forgotten who you are:
+ Take some time out for yourself, by yourself. It can be a solo holiday, a weekly commitment, or a couple of hours depending on your life situation.
+ Journal everyday, unedited. Let it all out and get in touch with some of those deep down feelings and thoughts
+ Pay attention to the things that make you come alive and the things that feel like a massive drag. Do more of the good stuff and less of the other stuff!
+ Give yourself permission to be you in every moment. If that icky feeling pops up, ask yourself if you’re coming from a place of being REAL or if you’re saying or doing something because you want to fit in/be liked/do what you think you should.
+ Spend the most amount of time you can with people who you’re your most genuine self around and who accept and love you for who you are.
It may seem crazy simple to be YOU and know who you are, but it is even easier to stop paying attention and forget to check in with yourself.
If you know someone who could do with a little check-in reminder, share away, you never know who it might help! And if you have any great tips to add to the list, be sure to leave a comment below!