mailchimp popup cross column

Friday, October 5, 2018

What is Identity Anyway?

95% of the time when we meet new people, they will ask one of these questions and not get much deeper than that:

“Where are you from?”

“Are you married?”

“Do you have kids?”

“What do you do?” (Of course this always means what’s your job, not what do you for fun.)

Generic questions sketch a convenient caricature.  For some, it’s enough.  Enough of their identity is tied to one or more of these things that there’s not much need for questions of a different ilk. I'm not saying that's wrong, but for me these questions are pretty tricky right now.  I’m from the US - but not particularly proud of that with the current political atmosphere.  I don’t have a home, but to say that I’m homeless sends the wrong message. I have been mostly single for 11 years. I am not a mother and never will be. I don’t have a job (and I'm sure not confident enough to say that I’m a writer). 

A few years ago there was a team building thing at work where they asked us to bring in a photo from our wedding or prom.  Gee, divorced and never went to prom, so here's what I came up with. 😂

Though I would say that I worked to live and didn’t live to work, I’m finding that a big part of my identity was wrapped up in my job. I find myself referring to Garmin as “we” still and referring to “my coworkers” instead of “former coworkers”. I had a really hard time reconciling that when I got divorced & I'm struggling with it again now, though with much less pain this time around.

I went to Garmin night at Oktoberfest in Munich last week.  It was good, but surreal seeing many people I used to work with. Enough time had passed that we couldn’t really talk about work much. Since I don’t have a replacement job, it almost feels like I’m on extended vacation rather than unemployed. A few of them said, “You’ll be back, just wait…”  It’s nice to feel that door is open should I care to pursue it, but for now, I’m not missing work and having no trouble filling my time.

One of the cool side effects being in my unique position is that conversations go beyond these easy questions.  I have had a higher concentration of meaningful conversations in the last 6 months than I'd had for years.  When those four basic questions don't have simple answers it pushes us out of our boxes and sometimes our comfort zones. It urges us to question what is truly important to us and think about who we are and what we want outside of those four things. It's really cool seeing people light up when they hear about what I'm doing and get fired up considering that they might be able to follow their dreams, too. 

A bunch of people have asked me what I've learned about the world or what I've learned about other cultures.  I'd been traveling quite a bit before this adventure so I really haven't had new epiphanies about the differences (I find more similarities personally) between Europeans and Americans. I'm learning about myself. Slowly casting off misconceptions I had about myself and what's important.

I haven’t updated my Linkedin profile. What do I change my employment status to? Who am I? A traveler, an explorer, a writer, a vagabond, a professional friend maker/ socializer?  I had to rediscover myself after getting divorced, and build a new “me”.  Guess that’s what I’m on the road to do again. Maybe at the end of this road, I'll figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  :-p

A friend shared this instagram post which I love:

My story doesn’t always feel important. 
Sometimes it doesn’t seem worth telling at all. 
Who am I to think my words, life, or experiences could impact someone else?
And then I realize - how self deprecating.
My story may not resonate with everyone. In fact, it probably won’t resonate with many. 
I am simply a human. 
A woman. 
A lover. 
Joy filled. 
To some, adventurous. 
But I am a steward of this earth. A student eager for knowledge. A medicine woman aiming to heal. A heart cracked open to spread love. And those things are relatable. Those things are important. Those are pieces of magic ✨
So I share my story. Not because I am more important. Not because I am any different from you, in fact. 
I share my story, because I have been lost. And it was other humans’ stories that led me home. 

Stories are the essence of humankind, and if mine means something to someone, than it’s worth telling. A thousand times over.

--Eva Lousie