I’m in the midst of an identity crisis.
I am 65 years old.
This should not be happening. Right?
But it is.
I am having difficulty, actually an outright challenge, coming to terms with who I am and more importantly, who I want to be.
I am asking myself these questions:
- Who have I become?
- Who am I becoming?
- Am I adding value to others’ lives, and to our world in my own unique way?
- Where am I going?
- Am I enjoying my life?
- Am I fulfilled?
- Am I doing something truly meaningful?
I will not ask myself if I am happy. That is not the right question. Happiness comes and goes throughout your life. I have a fairly strong opinion about happiness. It is an opinion based on 65 years of life and a few rough spots that have occurred along the way. Yes, a few rough spots. Judge for yourself:
- Prison – yep. I spent almost 3 years in a Federal Penitentiary…
- Divorce – more than one…
- Alienation from loved ones – still happening…
- Ostracism – “friends” ran for the woods in tough times and turned their backs…
- And, oh yes, last, but certainly not least, Cancer
The Big C.
- 6 Operations
- 12 Chemotherapy sessions
- 8 Stereo Tactic Body Radiation treatments
- 12 CT Scans
- 2 MRIs
- 3 Colonoscopies
- 2 Endoscopies
- 10 Doctors and Specialists
- A bleeding ulcer
- Dozens of prescriptions
- Self administered blood thinner injections
I think that’s enough.
But you know, we all face tough stuff in life. And I am not going to debate whether someone else’s rough patch was rougher than mine, suffered more, fell to lower lows. What’s the point of that? When you suffer you suffer. Leave it at that.
So it is not about always trying to be happy. I have reached the conclusion that happiness is a byproduct of getting good stuff, the right stuff done. It is about persevering through the muck, the mire, the crap that you will sometimes find yourself knee or even neck deep in.
Happiness can come about even when life is dragging you down, when your back is against the wall, when you get kicked in the teeth. Because, that is just going to happen at times. Its really all about how you face life, how you handle what is thrown at you, about how you emerge from the inevitable trials and tribulations.
Do you emerge charred, burned, forever damaged, indescribably broken? Or do you become hardened by the forger’s fire, like a new alloy? Better than the old version of you. Are you a Phoenix rising from the ashes? Job emerging from his trials more blessed than before? Do you experience the refinement and rebirth described as Kintsukuroi in Japanese culture?
So my identity crisis has nothing to do with wanting to be happier. It is about checking in with myself in an effort to understand if what I am pursuing is the right stuff. If who I am becoming is the “right” me, if the things I am involving myself in are fulfilling and adding value, or if they are just fillers, noise, chaff, flotsam and jetsam.
As a classic and chronic procrastinator, there are a lot of initiatives I started and never finished. A lot of things I meant to tackle, and never did. Dragons left un-slayed. Mountains remaining un-climbed. Adventures un-embarked upon. Kingdoms left unconquered.
But why focus on those? That would only drag me down, paralyze and depress me. After all, haven’t I accomplished much? Met a lot of goals? Celebrated a lot of victories?
Well sure. We all have. We all have accomplishments to celebrate, dances worth dancing, songs that deserve to be sung, fireworks to fire off.
However, that’s not my point here.
My point is that you wake up some mornings asking yourself those 7 tough questions, and all of a sudden, you are uncomfortable, Jarred out of your comfortable life. Spun out of that comfortable orbit you’be been in. Jazzed right out of your comfort zone. Shoved in front of the mirror to stare at yourself hard.
Or maybe you don’t ask yourself those questions. But you know, you SHOULD.
Because those questions, although causing an identity crisis for me, are necessary questions. Here is what they drive:
- Reflection – deep introspection
- Questioning – hard and tough
- Mid course corrections – get off that train now dude!
- Pruning – get rid of that, stop this.
The result? You end up in focusing on the right things. Putting you back on the right path or confirming that you still are. And validating who you are or who you want to be. Fulfilling.
And that’s worth the price of a brief identity crisis. It’s a blessing people. Not a curse.
What do you think? Have you done some quality check ins with yourself lately?