Who are you other than what you do for a living? Have you ever really thought about it?
Some of us most certainly have, but many of us have fallen into the societal trap. A trap full of labels, expectations, competition and unruly egos. A trap so potent in its power that few of us ever escape.
In today’s society, it has become ordinary to associate everything with what we do. We are faced with all kinds of identity-based questions on a daily basis:
“Where are you going to college?”
“What are your plans when you graduate?”
“What do you do for a living?”
“How much money do you make?”
“Where do you see yourself in the future?”
When I hear these questions, I used to feel pressured. A pressure so dense that I could actually feel its weight sitting heavily in my chest.
A few years ago, when asked what I wanted to do with my life, I probably would have told you I dreamt of becoming a nurse, a lawyer or maybe even a psychologist. The truth is, I had absolutely no idea.
Although I’m now studying photojournalism in hopes of making a career out of writing, photography and travel, I still don’t know exactly where I will end up or how this dream will play out in my life. None of us do.
As I’ve changed colleges, majors, cities, interests and even friends, there were times I felt as if I was lost in a tangled web of modern day pressures. But it was in this web that I found a way to untangle myself and discover my true identity in this world. And to my surprise, it was not what quite what I thought it to be.
I was caught in a rather convincing illusion—an illusion that told me that since I was not able to identify myself with the ideal career, hobby or group of friends that I was lost. I honestly assumed I had yet to find the person I was meant to be.
But what if the truth of who I really was was already inside of me?
What if instead of seeking out the right career to find myself, all I had to do was dig a bit deeper and pull out the hidden treasures I already had concealed within me?
I decided to give it a shot. To take zero notice of the labeling and disregard the self-exerted stress to have all the answers, the endless strain to have an explanation for what exactly I was doing with my life.
I soon found that everything I had been searching for was already within me. It was not external, and it certainly had nothing to do with my job or my school.
Today, if you were to ask me what I wanted to do with my life, my answer would look different than the answer I had given a few years back.
I would tell you that I want to inspire other human beings. To commit to expressing love to everyone who crosses my path. I would speak of my hope to use those special treasures I have within myself to contribute to the lives of others. I want to feel happiness, as well as the broad range of other emotions we, as humans, are uniquely given the ability to experience. And I would mention my dream of living a life that aligns with my own authentic truth.
Following these truths has indeed led me to clarity on my pursuit toward photography and journalism. But these interests do not define me. Although they now play an important role in my journey, they are merely details in a bigger picture of the truth that lies within me.
So, when you feel lost in the search for the answers and on the clarity of your labels, just pause.
Stop falling into the illusory pressures of identifying yourself with your careers, your school, or the amount of income you make each year. Instead, look inward and dig a little deeper within yourself. What is it that really excites you?
Make the choice to identify yourself by the amount of times you were able to use your own unique gifts to touch the souls of others in your time here on Earth. Together, in those moments of uncertainty and confusion, let’s chose to feel at peace in knowing that everything we need is already right inside of us.
“Play your part in the comedy, but don’t identify yourself with your role.” ~Wei wu Wei
Author: Natalie Lucci
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Author’s Own