Monday, May 28, 2012

Identity vs. Crises

Discovering your identity is not as hard as people try to make it seem. In fact, discovering your identity can be pretty methodical if you approach it correctly - ask a few questions, do some soul searching, and as Shakespeare so eloquently put it, "To thine own self be true." On the contrary, the hard part about growing emotionally and spiritually is maintaining your identity. Keep reading.

We often make the mistake of trying to plan our lives as though an outline has been predestined for us, and any bullet that goes unchecked has the power to completely derail the train that travels the path on which we are to reach our purpose in life. We tend to comprehend our lives in terms of accomplishments alone. Although logical, this type of thinking is rudimentary. To paraphrase Reverend Dr. Laurence C. Keene, "There's nothing wrong with a fifth grade understanding of [life], as long as you are in the fifth grade. What I'm saying is, life is to not only be comprehended by our accomplishments, it is to also be understood that failures, misfortunes, betrayals, second tries, and second chances are equally as important. Trials in life build character, and redemption is one of the greatest gifts one can receive in life.

When you meet someone the first thing that is usually asked is "What do you do for a living?" and you respond, "I am a [stockbroker, doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc.]." Take the stockbroker; this is what he eats, sleeps, breathes, dreams about - the stock market. As long as he is pulling in high returns, he is happy to identity with his profession; this is how he or she introduces his or herself to people. 2008 - the economy crashes, the stock market is in a fritz, people are losing everything they have in the uncertainty of the market, Stockbroker X goes home to his bathroom mirror. He realizes a bad investment decision has been made and that his reputation is tarnished. Immediately, his identity is no longer a stockbroker, he now introduces himself to his bathroom mirror as a failure. Stockbroker X is now Failure X (or so he perceives).

What happened with the stockbroker? I'll tell you. Stockbroker X has been in this profession for X amount of years; he always did a good job, but this one time he screwed up. Stockbroker X was known to give his clients the utmost professional service, and always ensured them huge returns on their money - several years worth of success. Will his clients remember this when he calls to tell them he just lost $14,000,000? Probably not. They have now labeled him as a failure, a let down, a disappointment. Stockbroker X is sorry, very sorry, but is that enough? No.

The reality of the world we live in is that people hardly remember the good we do - even if it's several years of it. They like to remember us in our low points, because everyone has a complex that makes them feel the need to be superior. Everyone. The other problem is that when we make mistakes, it's not enough for people to see us sorry for our mistakes. Sorrow is not enough - the world wants to see shame. This is why people label us - failure, disappointment, incompetent. This is where you have to remember that it's important to maintain your identity. There is a big difference between sorrow and shame. Sorrow isn't enough for people because being sorry is what you do, but shame identifies who you are. People are very fond of labeling you with your mistakes, but we live in a world where redemption is ours to seek, and we have to remember that we don't have to lose our identity to our mistakes.

Before Stockbroker X was a stockbroker, he was a person. When he got up and out of the bed on the morning he lost 14 million dollars, he was someone. Had he taken the day off and waited to sell or exchange securities, he would've still been the same person. It is royally important for us to find and maintain our identity from much more than our accomplishments, our careers, our money, or our lifestyles. We should choose to be identified by our hearts, our good-nature,our sense of humor, our passions. And it is our duty to maintain that identity. If your passions just so happen to line up with your career or your lifestyle, then so be it, but just know that if all of that fades away, you are still the same person. It is a dangerous practice to place value or significance on your life according to things that are capable of being beyond our reach at any given point in our lives.

Discover who you are, maintain that identity, and to thine own self be true.