“Identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is a process that you must be active in.” – Joss Whedon
Two weeks ago I moved… hence the lack of posts. This was neither a quick nor easy decision but one I had been mulling over for a long time. Moving is always stressful but for me this move was also intertwined with an identity crisis of sorts… Let me add some context to the story for you. My life and my sense of self-identity changed quite rapidly a few years back. This change came about due to illness. This illness invaded every single part of my life, and I have been trying to put the puzzle pieces back together ever since. It has taught me (and continues to teach me) many things. Some of which I will share on ‘A Journey of Steps’. But it doesn’t define me nor will it define this blog – it’s just part of my story right now.
You see when I first became sick I tried with all my might to get back to the person who I was before; although my body had other ideas and often this involved falling into a heap. I wanted so badly to resume the path I had been on…. before it diverged into a place I had no idea how to navigate. To not feel like a total stranger in my own life.
So in the midst of change – something I have a rather fickle relationship with – I clung, grasped and held on to anything that could anchor me to my old sense of self. And where I lived before I got sick was just one of those anchors. A place that I had called home for numerous years. The walls within holding a vast collection of memories, hopes, dreams and fears; a place that held many an adventure, and had also seen many tears. So making the decision to move and say goodbye was difficult.
But it had also became a place where I found myself falling into the comparison trap. Comparing past me and everything I had defined myself by with present me. Slowly I came to the realisation, that at certain stages in our life some pieces of the puzzle just aren’t going to fit. So I moved….
With any major life transition – illness, losing a loved one, moving, starting a new career, becoming a parent, etc – there can be a paradox of emotions; each coming like waves in an ocean. I found myself cycling through a mixture of fear, grief, uncertainty and excitement as I packed up all my belongings and slowly made my way through my seemingly never-ending to-do list. When the waves of fear were particularly strong I tried to reframe my fear as excitement, a trick I mentioned before in a previous post.
As I transition from one phase to next, I find myself trying to reconcile the old me with the new me; an ongoing process of letting go of once held anchors of identity, and befriending the new sense of self that is slowly emerging. I once heard Maria Popova say on The Tim Ferris podcast, that “Inhabiting our own identity is an ongoing process”. A statement I wholly agree with. There are many different facets to our identity. Some parts we will outgrow, whilst others we will grow into.
Who am I?
Defining our identity is a lifelong quest. And with major life transitions, as mentioned above, we can go through shifts of how we see and define ourselves. There is a scene in the Netflix series Sense8 in which the characters ponder over the question of – “Who Am I?” (Sidenote: May have done a happy dance with the news of Sense8’s revival). If, like me, you find yourself in the midst of redefining who you are – I hope you can find solace in this scenes powerful message.
“Do you mean where I’m from? What I one day might become? What I do? What I’ve done? What I dream? Do you mean … what you see or what I’ve seen? What I fear or what I dream? Do you mean who I love? Do you mean who I’ve lost? Who am I? I guess who I am is exactly the same as who you are. Not better than, not less than. Because there is no one who has been or will ever be exactly the same as either you or me.” – Sense8
I would love to hear your thoughts on identity… Also any ideas of what helped you when you found yourself in the flux of a major life transition.