Today marked the day that I had quite a significant realization. A realization that through all this change, I was forming a lose of identity. Not just a lose of identity but rather a feeling of insignificance. It sounds all quite morbid really, doesn’t it? But It’s not. Provided of course you manage to capture the feeling before it decides to own you.
We all know that change will bring about a significant shift in your self, but the reality of experiencing that change is very different to understanding a process that is meant to take place. It is incredible how much emphasis we place on what we do, and how much that in turn creates an identity for who we are. Until now, the constant corporate ladder climb, fast paced lifestyle and never ending ‘need’ of my time from a hundred people a day meant that my identity relied on these aspects in life. And like any person with a bad habit, when you remove that habit cold turkey, you feel the pinch. This experience has been no different. I have found myself slowly slipping into a realm that I had never stepped toward before. This weird, sad and inevitable feeling of insignificance. I can imagine this is the same as that whole ‘empty nest’ syndrome for parents when the final child leaves home. All of sudden all of these things that once defined you have been removed, and you are stood bare, not knowing where to go next.
Today was the day I felt that realization. A realization that I had been so heavily conditioned to identify with what I do, that when it was removed, even when both consciously and subconsciously I knew it was ‘bad’ for me, it left me feeling exposed, vulnerable and lost. So lost. What was I to do of a morning? What is the point of getting up and pretending to work when I feel like it doesn’t matter in the long run (although I am sure my clients who were waiting for their work didn’t quite feel the same)? Who really cares about me, my time, my input, or my ideas?
Lets just say, its not a nice place to be. Until that significant realization washes over you and makes you aware of what silliness is playing in your mind.
I am not saying this to downplay it either. The impact this feeling has on you is profound. You feel paralyzed by the defeat of the emotion. Defeat in the sense that it replaces the identity of supposed ‘significance’ from before and allows you to wallow in the uncertainty of your existence. But like all things in life, ownership and awareness is the counteragent to beating these emotions. Once I realized I felt this way, I sat with my partner and spoke about it in great depth and detail. I explained all that I understood to have once identified with. Who I felt I was; my impact; my role; my existence. This was a soul searching moment. Openly defining who you thought you were based on external factors in life, knowing that deep down you know it’s not truly who you are and why you are here. Once this was on the table, it was time to start fresh. Clear out the baggage and find what it is I want to feel significant for.
Why do you think you are here? How much of what you identified with before really did matter or was actually a waste of time and energy with that wonderful perspective of hindsight? How many of the relationships that you had were truly good for your soul and your journey? And most importantly, if you could do it all over again, would you?
I found once you break down your previous version of ‘significance’, and really challenge what it is you are looking for, you will be surprised to see what you find. We all want to feel significant. We all want to be important. And we all want to have a role to play in our lives. We want to make an impact. The issue we find is that we have identified too firmly with external factors, that when removed, we believe we have lost our whole sense of self. I can assure you, you haven’t. In fact, stepping away from what you know, and going through this process, will make you a far stronger person than any of those around you. Just as long as you remain aware, remain conscious, and move through the challenges with an open heart and mind. I have found, if you do this, you will come out on the other side with so much more to offer than anything you could before.