As humans we spend a lot of time trying to ‘find ourselves’, ‘our identity’. I think this is just a primal need to know where we fit, what our purpose is. People tend to separate identity and purpose but I believe they are closely intertwined.
I have come to realise there is no fixed point where we ‘arrive’ and suddenly we know who we are and why we were put on this earth. Our identity is not something that is lost or missing and something to be found. It can however, get swamped by life and that can leave you feeling like you don’t know who you are anymore or what your are meant to be doing with your life. Disillusionment sets in.
Our life and identity is a journey of discovery and evolution. At 18 years old I probably would have said my identity was a blonde, slim, caucasian, heterosexual female, with English heritage. I would have said I was an introvert that had a strong Christian faith valuing respect and integrity. I would have also said that I was not academically minded, instead I was carefree, would never have a career as I wasn’t bright enough and would have been happy to spend my days surfing, swimming, sunbathing, reading books and writing in my journal. Well that identity has certainly changed and evolved. I am still blond..ish, with more silver :). My nationality or gender has not changed. I am definitely not slim though and I have completely moved away from my Christian faith or more-so the religion attached to it. I still value respect and integrity , still love books and writing and I am still an introvert. I am not dumb and am definitely academic. My passions at 18 are not my passions now. I have always had interests in the same things, animal welfare and human rights but they have expanded and evolved with age and life experiences. As my identity has evolved over the years, so has my purpose.
Religion drove most of my decisions and much of my identity and purpose earlier in my life. It now plays no part in defining my life or me. That period involved me trying to jam my identity into a mould that had been created, not by me. My ideal identity and purpose had been determined and defined by others and that it is a sure recipe for one major identity crisis! Once I had shaken off those shackles, it was game on and I set out on a mission to accept and appreciate my identity, the core of who I was, irrespective of how uncomfortable it made others feel.
Every experience in my life has been driving me toward what I now believe is my reason for being put on this earth. That purpose is still a work in progress and has room to continue to grow and evolve, but I have a much clearer understanding of ‘who I am’, my identity.
Over many years I have read books and articles about how to find yourself and your purpose, hoping there would be some mathematical equation that would spit out the answer. The interesting part is, when I stopped looking elsewhere for answers and turned inward, the pieces started to come together.
Some people find that early in life but that is the exception, not the norm. These days it is not uncommon for people to have 3-4 careers in a lifetime as their identity evolves and with it their purpose.
The reason our identity is so intertwined with our purpose is related to the definition of identity as our beliefs, values, looks, expressions and personality and it is particularly these beliefs, values and personality that help us find our purpose. What stokes the fire inside and makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.
Trusting your intuition, not trying to fit into a mould someone else has designed for you, recognising that you are unique as are your gifts and talents, the world doesn’t need carbon copy humans. Be you. Listen to that little voice inside that knows. Don’t force it, dream big, think outside the box. Everything we need to know about our identity and purpose is already inside of us, not in a book or a tarot card and it is a journey……