Identity. Not something I can say I have ever spent much time considering, thinking about or mulling over. Life. There is so much going on.
I certainly never needed to sit still and ponder on it, as I walked through my life and all its multicoloured experiences. So it took me by surprise when I was slapped with it. I was faced with a situation that literally challenged every fibre of my being and I had no idea as to why. How did we get here?
When faced with a challenge – you can't see its face
You don’t know its name. You don’t know how to greet it, talk to it….let alone saying your so desperately wanting to farewell it. It creeps in, unnoticed…… it tugs at your shirt, it slips into your dreams, it presses on your chest…..and starts to slowly drown your thoughts until you literally have to stop, turn and face it …..greet it, accept that it is there and then sit down with it to talk it through.
At least that is how I used to deal with challenges. This story taught me a lesson, so many lessons, so that I now do things a little differently. And maybe you would like to as well?
It started when I was realising that this person in my life, who was mimicking and adopting some of the roles that I felt were fundamentally me. They were in a way, trying on all the clothes that I had taken such time and care to choose for my journey, for my authentic self. And they were trying them on in my home and passing them for their own. It wasn’t all at once. It was slow. Each step felt foreign and confusing….. but the need to keep harmony and balance in my life, outweighed the need for me to address this and put a stop to it. Does that resonate with what you face? It's like, how did it build into this?
The slow drifting in of the fog wasn’t enough for me to yell at the top of my lungs.....
The slow drifting in of the fog wasn’t enough for me to yell at the top of my lungs. Enough to make me uncomfortable but uncertain where else to stand, would be more how I describe it. This was the place I had built and worked for. Where else would I even want to be if not for here?
…..from my image, to the career I had worked towards, to adopting the life goal I was aspiring for and had been working on building for years, to the techniques I studied for this life aspiration, to the dance style that I had dedicated so many of my years to – to even the role of who I was in my dance community to others.
To intensify the situation - at the time I was taking on another important life project that would radically shift my identity – and so it compounded into one of the strongest life crises I have faced, endured and come out the other side of.
This compounding situation is not a selfish tale of what was mine, nor of a mere copy cat for this person and their need for these actions are not the focus of this story. They are but a character in my journey, who taught me an enormous life lesson around self identity and choices, and for that lesson, I will be grateful for what it taught me.
For me, those were what had defined me. My unique choice to how I presented myself, the worth of my career work to date, to what had taken a small lifetime to discover my true calling, to who I was to the dance community that I had built over so many years – these I felt were the building blocks to my uniqueness. My identity.
It was claustrophobic, confronting and in my own way made me sit down and question what really were the elements of myself, my past, my present, my future – what made me ‘me’. What made me unique?
…………. We have all been there, sitting happily and with ease on the other side of a challenge, in that freeing state of what you know now and looking back at the path you have led, the hurdle you have jumped, the storm that you walked through. I have empathy for the younger version of myself who had to walk that path of suffering. The richness of the lesson though, sits like a bucket filled with gold coins at my feet.
I know identity crises don’t arise in the same way for everyone. It can be through injury, the loss of a loved one or the children leaving the coup. It can be a transition in your career whether it be by choice or by loss of work, so many ways for us to challenge our sense of identity. Through a situation that challenges the life role you identify with.
There are more parts to my story, for that I will leave it for another day, but this story is to challenge you to think a little about what 'you have decided' defines you?
Who are you to yourself? What makes up your identity?
How many life roles, or aspects of who you are do you allow to define you?
How would you address a situation where you would have to shift that identity if life was to take that role from you?
Some thoughts for us all to ponder…..