I see that I have lost myself in the roles I was playing. Rather than being channels for life, they became my life. They became my security and my identity. When I stripped them, I felt like nothing. The roles became my worth. As they moved, changed, disappeared, I did, too.
Have you ever felt like the roles you play define you? Be it work, parenting, volunteering, a certain hobby or passion….whatever it may be, it’s easy to get lost in the labels. It feels safe to let a job or a task list fill out the description papers of who we are. And when those labels go away, it can feel like we vanish along with whatever title was lost. Even if you love your labels with everything that you are, even if your job feeds your soul, even if you are doing what you feel called to do with your time and energy – even then, it’s possible to give them too much power.
When I lost my job a few years ago, it felt like a piece of my identity had been stolen. What was I, really, without that role? I can say the same for the time a stress fracture had me sidelined from gymnastics and track part of my senior year of high school into my first year of college – who was I, really, without those labels? Or when I was forced to let go the idea of operating some sort of biodynamic farm community on land purchased with some family members – who was I, really, without that dream?
What we do with our time is important, and a huge part of our identity – but when we let what we do with our time (or how well we do it), dictate our sense of self and our worth, we set ourselves up for vanishing little bits at a time as the trials of a human life leave marks and circumstances shift.
D’arcy goes on to say, “Now I am working to find and love the person behind the roles.” We all have something that goes much deeper than any role we play in this life. Those roles keep life interesting, and they often add depth and meaning to our days. The trick, I think, is to allow the energy of life to run through the channels all of our roles provide while keeping our feet firmly planted in the notion that life is much more vast than any labels a human language can assign.
You are not your job, your hobby, your to-do list, or your familial role. Pay attention to what’s under the labels. Don’t let yourself vanish into a role that is sure to change as life continues. You are a human being, complex and imperfectly whole, no matter what gets stripped away during this human life. What doesn’t get stripped away is what makes you beautiful and complete. Find, and love, the person under the roles.
Learn more about my latest book here: What Comes Next: Between Beauty and Destruction. Available now wherever books are sold.