Who am I?
It's a very simple question and most people will respond with their name.
But let's look into this question a little deeper.
Who am I?
I think there may be numerous answers to this.
I am a son,
I am a husband,
I am an AVP at a financial institution,
I am a worker,
I am an uncle,
I am a breadwinner,
I am a blogger,
I am an investor
The list goes on.
It may increase as time goes by,
It WILL decrease as time goes by.
Now which identity do you relate most with? What if you lost it?
For example, some people really relate to their jobs. They may hate their jobs. But they form their identity based on it. So they may really want to leave their jobs. But when they do, they lose their sense of identity and feel depressed and return to the job soon after.
Females may deem themselves mothers, which might be why some find it so hard to let go of their kids when the children grows up, and they might keep nagging, advising their children even well into adulthood.
There are many other scenarios, like identifying with being a good son. Some children may be living for their parents as good sons/daughters. Doing whatever makes their parents happy, and in return, they themselves feel satisfied and fulfilled. However, some end up feeling a sense of emptiness when their parents pass on. As suddenly, they do not have something to live for.
I realized that for myself, currently, I relate very closely to being an AVP at a financial institution. Now that's a really sad point for me considering I am aiming to retire young. Of course there will be a trade off. Once I retire, I will remove the identity of AVP and add the new identity of "I am a retiree". Maybe I will be able to relate more to being a retiree? Maybe? Maybe not...
There's also another thing to note, you can add new identities which could be more fulfilling than the previous one which you mainly related to and thus changing the main identity. Now, this is a really important point as it helps people to find additional fulfilment in life, especially for people who hate their work but can't leave it as it is the only thing they live for. Ironic but true for some people.
There's only one problem... What. What to do to include additional identities? What's important is that the identity needs to rank higher than the previous one which you may not like. Unfortunately, this is really an adventure, or self exploration. There is really no answer if you don't already know the answer. Some people love being mums (one of the best/strongest identities). Others love being doctors. The point is to find an identity which YOU love that will make you feel fulfilled. It needs to be on-going as well. When kids fly the coup, some mums may lose their sense of identity.
One usually relates to an identity when they get more recognition out of it or if they really love doing it.
Example, I get money and recognition of my contribution by the company. (relates to it but don't like it)
Others may really like to cycle and identify themselves as cyclists.
Or they may be the breadwinner if no one else in the family is working.
Or "I am a stay at home mum" who gets really agitated when other's may think it's a really easy job.
Cos they really identify themselves with the role and feel that they have given a lot to accomplish it.
Also why some people feel very insulted when you doubt someone's identity.
(Try telling a stay at home mum her job is like an on-going vacation. Or tell a sole breadwinner that his partner should go to work to add to the income.)
If they relate very closely to what they do, they might come at you with knives.
Truth is, humans need recognition. Not necessarily by everyone but by some people.
So what next?
Using myself as an example, I'd love to give up my identity as an AVP and eventually shift to retiree. But what if everyone denies that identity? When someone asks, "So what do you do?". I'd answer, "I'm retired.". Then there'd be this slew of responses "But you're so young", etc etc. And I'd have to persuade them that being retired is good, etc etc which makes me totally upset cos so many people cannot accept a retiree at 35 yrs old.
Compare that to being a pilot for instance.
"So what do you do?"
"I'm a pilot!"
"Wow that's really nice, you get to see the world, carrying so many people around with pretty flight attendants."
"I fly cargo"
Spot any difference? Humans are prone to judging and being judged and most humans need to be judged in a way which is positive. People who say you shouldn't care... Don't kid yourselves. Everyone is looking for recognition in their own way. Unless that is not their main identity.
Another example. Kane West...
I feel he's a total disgrace. Disrespectful, rude, self centred possum. Who contributes nothing good to society.
He doesn't care for recognition? Are you sure?
He may SAY he doesn't bother what people think. But thing is there are many who admire people like that. Which makes him successful, resulting in the recognition which he says he doesn't need. He just sold his nonsense to a large enough population and based on large numbers, there are enough people who appreciate his work.
What is NOBODY appreciates his work? Would he be as successful? Would be still be the same old disrespectful self? Maybe? Maybe not...
(This results in a degradation of society as, in the new age, poor behaviour is actually being rewarded. But I'll leave that for a future post.)
Point is everyone needs some form of recognition regardless of from who. Even if you don't like what you're doing, most likely, you'll continue doing it if it provides you with the recognition.
Knowing this, there IS another way to play this game.
Do whatever you want which you like. Think about Kane West. But in a better way. Then FIND people to recognize your work. Most artists do this. So I could retire, then stop talking to people who regard retirement as a waste of my life, and start mixing with people who react positively to early retirement. Yes this takes time and meeting of new people, but this is truly an investment for the future.
Problem is that most people want instant gratification. I work as an AVP and I get my recognition IMMEDIATELY. No need to talk to new people, no need to build new networks. Only downside, I don't like being an AVP. It's like starting a new business. You'll probably need to invest time and effort for this and things will start out really slow. Same as this blog. I may get some readers, and hopefully, slowly I get more. The aim is to work backwards. To hopefully do what I like and then get the recognition eventually. But I don't get my instant gratification which might lead to a drop in my interest level as I don't see the rewards of my labour. Like retirement. If I'm retired, I should be happy as heaven, but then I don't get any recognition of my accomplishment and get all this negative feedback, makes one want to turn back to the comfort zone.
Oh well, it's all a mental game, some may succeed, some may not. Hopefully, I'll eventually get there. I hope you will too. If you already like your identity then that's all good. I hope it's a perpetual identity which you can retain forever. If you don't like who you are, then I hope you take some active steps to explore what you'd like to develop in and what you could become. Nevertheless, this probably won't come easy. But it's never too late to start. So the simple question for today is...
Who are you?