You’re a baby, then a toddler, a child, a tween, a teenager, a university student and then…..
It seems our fascination with labels means that once you are an adult, we need to find another way to label ourselves and others, so we take on our job as the most important label to describe who we are.
I was speaking to a woman the other day who was talking about her loss of identity now that she is currently working out what job she wants to do next.
Who was she without a job title, she asked?
A dozen words came to mind for this woman I had only just met.
Driven, intelligent, caring, inquisitive, humble, generous, open, attractive, curious, seeking, positive, energetic.
Sure, these are just more labels but they are more to do with HER than what she does to make money. Yet what she was seeking was a title that others would see, and one that she herself was willing to own.
What she wasn’t able to see is that your sense of identity comes from WITHIN.
Identity isn’t something bestowed on you from your employer, your family or your friends.
It’s what you choose to identify with.
Your identity is your choice, your journey, your words, you way of being.
My friend Martin Underwood wrote a great piece about this recently for Escape the City. Sure Barrister is a fabulous label to have but what if it isn’t one you identify with? What happens if the label actually leaves you feeling hollow?
I would love it if our identity played out more than the title on our job description and rather in the way we treat the people we come across every day.
The way we help strangers on the street who are lost.
The smile and chat we have with the local shop owner.
The way we treat our friends and family.
The activities that help bring a smile to someone else’s face.
Our sense of identity should be about US and WHO WE ARE and WHAT WE STAND FOR. Not the title of the way we earn our money.
So if you are wondering who you are, then look inside.
Look for the ways that light you up. Look at the ways you interact with others. Look at the ways you care for those around you. Look at the difference you want to make in the world.
And if you look inside and still can’t find the words, start with a few simple questions.