Who are you?
Recently, I got thinking about a career woman I met on Ikaria back in 2019 before the pandemic, who was nearing retirement. When I congratulated her, she told me she was dreading it. The look on her face spoke volumes. Of course, me being me – we had to sit down and have a good old chat. Bear in mind this was a lady with many interests, activities, and with a love of travel.
She told me that she had delayed it as long as possible but due to her age she was forced to retire. When I asked why she was feeling this way, she explained that her work was her life, her position, her identity. She had no idea who she would be when this period of her life was over. We talked about new chapters beginning and wonderful experiences she had to look forward to. How one door closes so that another door may open.
The chord that struck me in our conversation was about identity. Why do you feel that your identity is in what you do rather than who you are? Must it be one and the same? Are we not always changing, growing and learning? Should you be put into a specific box, and when you no longer fit in that box what happens? So many questions! When I think of how we approach identity here on Ikaria, we consider that character, personality, the soul of a person is really what makes the person who they are. Life changes and we change with it. Yet we are still who we always were.
I find it interesting that often when we meet someone new one of the first questions is “So what do you do?” Wouldn't it be nice to be asked: “What do you enjoy doing?” Because as soon as you answer the first question it seems your identity is sealed. I suppose there are two things happening here: one is the fear of retirement and the other the fear of losing yourself in the way you have known for so long.
So maybe, as we experience so much change and upheaval in these times, it’s really an opportunity to introduce yourself to yourself again! To learn (or relearn) what fulfils you and brings contentment to your life. To see this as a wonderful gift and realize how blessed you are to have this time. Being taken out of our comfort zone and routine can be scary. But it is also exciting and exhilarating! So, take that next step with optimism and cheer. And always keep in mind that you are who you always were, only growing and learning as you go.