I had a breakthrough moment a few weeks ago. I've written quite a few posts over the last few years about the loss of identity I experienced as a result of having to leave the full-time work force. Letting go of my identity as a long-hour-working-communications-research-professional-activist-labour-staffer was really hard.
Since going into remission (and no longer feeling that fighting for my life was my main job) I've done an awful lot of navel gazing and spent a lot of hours in therapy trying to figure out who I am, since I no longer define myself by The Job.
Sacha, my perceptive and thoughtful son sent me a link to a wonderful article and inspiring article by Jesse Thorn. His instincts were right- I've been looking for my Thing.
I think I've been putting too much weight on each new idea, though. Every potential project would need to give me a new identity - provide the answer for when someone asks "What do you do?"
But the truth is that no project can fulfill all of anyone's needs. And I was scaring myself off of trying new stuff because I was afraid that it wouldn't work out and that I'd be searching all over again.
My "aha!" moment came with what should have been a pretty straightforward realization. I'm not looking to redefine myself. Overall, I'm pretty happy with who I am. What I want is to feel fulfilled, purposeful and happy.
I will never be able to define myself with just one word. I am a mother, wife, friend, writer, lover of dogs and books, social observer, activist in and out of the armchair and, occasionally, an opinionated bitch.
My Thing doesn't have to be my everything. I just need to figure out the things I love to do and allow myself the time to do them. I need to be brave and take risks but if today's Thing doesn't work out in the long run, that's OK too.
I may never have a few short words with which I can define myself at cocktail parties but I hardly every go to those anyway. Life isn't about creating an identity that others can understand and judge. Life is about living in the best way that I possibly can.