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  • Writer's pictureClara Morgan

On Identity & Possibility

Expand your sense of self.

"If you’ve ever been to a party and been asked 'what do you do?' you might have noticed that sometimes our job or career is all we ask each other about. 'I’m a server,' you might say, and that is the end of getting to know you."

It is as though being a dentist, a salesperson, or a librarian is the only thing that defines you.

Our identities are in fact much more complex and unique . Our sense of identity can include: the memories and past experiences that shaped us; our faith or spirituality (or lack thereof); our hobbies and pleasures; the languages we speak; our convictions; our dreams; our interests; our heritage and the generations which came before us; our gifts and strengths; the traditions we embrace; if we see the glass half full or empty; what we are proud of; the various cultures we belong to (the country where we were born, the schools we attended, or the hockey team we support); who hurt us or our ancestors and how; the foods we cook and enjoy; shame and what we do about it; our politics; where we’ve chosen to travel; our sibling order and the roles we play in our families; which pets we have; what makes us beautiful and where we see beauty, our favourite books/songs/movies; the board games and sports we play and the mountains we climb; our courage and bravery; our drive to succeed; our friendships; when we feel most alive; who we choose to help when we volunteer and how we show up for others; our passions; what makes us laugh; how we let ourselves be vulnerable; how we forgive, including ourselves; who we lead and follow; what we grow in our gardens; the people we love; and those who love us in return.

We can all be challenged to expand who we think we are, in order to notice and include these into our sense of identity.

This is especially important for those of us who have had losses in our lives. Sometimes these are tangible losses, like a job, a partner, our health, or our financial security; sometimes they are futures we dreamed of or expected to have. These are all devastating, and as time passes we can pine endlessly for them. We can also come to believe that once they are gone there is nothing left by which to define and value ourselves.

There is a quote by George Bernard Shaw which reads “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” It is the only quote I have in my office. In other words, we may spend a long time trying to go back to a person we once were, believed we were, or expected to become. This may represent putting a lot of grief and effort into a task or way of being that may not be possible. On the other hand, each day that comes is one where we could start again, embrace a new path for ourselves, honour someone who passed away by taking up one of their past-times, discover and explore a passion, have fun, and build an achievable new life from the one we have now. We’ve even often gained new skills, strengths, and insights from our challenge, which we can bring with us as we forge our way on a new journey with new self-definitions.

Who will you become?

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