A little over a year ago, I quit my part-time job in the pursuit of being a happier person. Little did I know how much damage it would do to me emotionally and how it would affect my environment. In the midst of dealing with the economic toil on my family, I found myself contemplating my identity. Who am I if I am not relating myself in a career? My fears of who I am came pouring out in my last story, In Search of Something Super. I felt that I was so many things, but somehow it just didn’t seem good enough to keep me from spiraling into somewhat of a deep depression.
This story was meant to help me work out my emotional issues on paper, and I believed that I would work it out by the end of the story. I started the story with fervor. I knew exactly the emotions I wanted to convey. I wanted to scream at the world and say, “See! I made the right choice. What I am to my family matters and that’s enough.” The problem was, right after I made my statement in ink, I found myself in the same situation in the plot as in my life. Now what? Just like my life, I did not know where I was headed with either.
Eventually I got tired of holding on to a story I was really enjoying writing just because I wanted to make it some grand statement about my life. In the end, I wrapped up the story and gave my main heroine a kick-ass ending, but for my life, I was still left questioning.
All of that got me thinking once again about my self-identity. What is that and what did it mean to me. So I decided to get schooled, and do what I do best. Research. It turns out that self-identity according to the dictionary is the recognition of one’s potential and qualities as an individual, especially in relation to social context.
Besides making me a little angry, that definition really told me nothing that helped me and my self-discovery. So I kept digging. I read an article in Psychology Today that discussed identity as our beliefs that steer us in making the decisions in our life. Those decisions could be anything in our lives from career to dealing with money to who we chose to mate with. This made more sense to me, but one thing that really resonated in the article is if someone is doing something in their life that is counterintuitive to what their identity is, it could lead to unhappiness. The person could chose to go against their identity or could be unaware of what their identity is and going against it unintentionally. So to sound very self-centered, what could that mean to me? Could my depression be coming from forcing myself into an identity that is not true?
In my research, I discovered the jackpot for me. Self-identity is about how you tell others about yourself. How do I shape the story of my life? How do I describe myself to others? Maybe this helps explain my state of depression. If I feel as if I am not accomplishing much in life that will affect the world as a whole or more than a few people who are around me, then I tend to not consider myself a contributing member of the society that I have built in my head. And although I have spent the past year trying to find out about me- what I like and dislike, how healthy I eat or exercise- none of this has helped me get over my funk. Maybe my issue is not about me rather how I relate to others. This past year, I have been isolated with only a few people around me. I have unintentionally isolated myself and thus I have begun to lose ways to talk to others. My life was not challenging my mind and body.
I have begun to define myself in simple terms. I am a mother or a wife, and expecting people around me to see beyond my simple self-identity to see how much more I am capable. Asking complete strangers to do that is like asking the sun not to shine today. It is just not going to happen. If you want someone to respect you for everything you are, you have to illustrate everything you are in your stories of yourself and with your actions. I need to put myself out of my comfort zone more and share the real me not just the façade I have grown accustomed to using.
Going the extra mile to research just want self-identity means helped guide me through my life and my thoughts to pinpoint where I have been going wrong. Now the only hope I have is that I can guide my life back on the right path and be happy with the amazing life I know I have deep down.
If you would like to read about my creative struggle with self-identity, check out my latest story In Search of Something Super. Thanks for letting me rant!