I think one of the most uncomfortable things about 2020 is the fact that so many of us, without warning, lost a part of our identities when the world changed. Breadwinner. Social Butterfly. Working Mom. Community Leader. Who are we when these identities suddenly slip away? How do we measure our value? Earn our self esteem?
For my entire adult life my identity has been wound tightly around two concepts. Being a New Yorker and having a successful career in fashion. Who would I be if I didn’t live in New York? Or didn’t have a job in the industry I’d dreamed of? How would I feel if I weren’t the primary breadwinner in our household? I feel unmoored when I consider it, like a boat drifting further and further from the safety of my figurative shore. The skyline fading from view.
The funny thing about identity is that it only exists in your own head. I doubt anyone would think less of me if I lived elsewhere. No one would care if I was a clerk at a bookstore instead of the COO of a company. But the definitions that we write for ourselves are often the hardest to edit, aren’t they?
As I approach the last week at my current job I’ve been thinking a lot about this all and wondering if, in a silver lining light, 2020 has allowed us all to try on other identities that could lead us in a different direction. Maybe there’s someone out there that realized he’d love to be a stay at home Dad. Maybe there’s someone else who realized that being the life of the party served the crowd but actually left them feeling perpetually exhausted.
In my case, New York and my career truly are things that bring me joy and fulfillment – so I don’t plan on charting a drastically new course anytime soon. But rather, loosening the grip I’ve had on how I define myself. And at the very least – leaving the door ajar for the future unknown.
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