|Artwork by Paul-Baptiste Baca|
There has been a lot of talk about "identity" lately, particularly amongst my outdoorsy friends. They notice that they've expanded their interest and evolved. People once known as "Climbing" people are now skiing people, cycling people, paddling people. No one thing defines them. For those who let one thing, like climbing, define them, then face an injury, a loss of partner, a relocation, they're lost for awhile. They were a "Climber", now what?
I have thought about how I have identified myself both in the past and present. Words like Climber, Cyclist, Bookwork, Seamstress, Knitter, Yogini, Daughter, Girlfriend, Aunt, Athlete, Caretaker of Animals....these all came out of my mouth. When asked about myself it was always, "I work at blah blah blah, I live with blah blah blah, My hobbies include....". My identity was driven by external factors.
I stepped back and thought about those words and how they were not what defined me, but rather the core values they share. Rather than describe myself with brief words I am so much more.
I am someone:
- With a great capacity for love
- Who feels more connected to the earth and people of the world when I am outdoors
- Able to recognize the unity of my mind, soul, and body more when I participate in physical activities
- Who is willing to protect people she loves
- Who feels at peace after bringing a project from start to finish
- Who remains open to new paths and new challenges
You get the picture. It's not an exhaustive list but it's a glimpse at how my process works. It has made a huge difference. I no longer dwell on the fact that I may not climb as much as I would like, that maybe I am no longer a climber. Rather I say, I may not climb as much but the part of my soul that is fueled from climbing is fueled with yoga, riding my bike, and so many other areas.
My identity is not dependent upon how often or how well I do something. Rather it's fluid, it evolves, and comes from what brings me joy, what makes me cringe, but on a really big level. My identity is also not dependent on how much I let others see. I can give as much or as little of each of these elements in my relationships and interaction and still maintain my authenticity.
So for my friends who are struggling with identity or even if you haven't given it much thought considering going through this process. Get rid of the words that are so static and describe yourself with core messages and phrases. Present yourself in a greater way. On that note... I better go change my biography ;-)