“Our identities are open systems and so are our lives. We don’t have to stay tethered to old images of where we want to go or who we want to be. the simplest way to start rethinking our options is to question what we do daily,” Adam Grant, Think Again. Change is a beautiful thing. I feel like I’ve changed a million times since I started this project. I’ve changed millions more throughout my life. I’ve tried to shape an identity based on who I thought I was and when that didn’t work, I fell apart and tried another, and another, and another. I came to the conclusion that there are facets of our personalities that define who we are—but we are never just one thing.
Humans are complex creatures and we like to put things in boxes because that serve our primal brain Because it simplifies the complex. Being able to determine if something is “good” or “bad” means we know if we are in danger, if it is safe, if we will survive, or if we will die—and that clearly serves a purpose. We like simplicity and we like perceived clarity even if it’s forced—we like 140 characters or less or 30 seconds or less to get the message across. But life isn’t like that. There isn’t always safety in quick decisions. Yes, things happen and we have to adapt and change on a dime, but one thing we are gifted in this day and age is the ability to take in and interpret a myriad of differences and options and DECIDE for ourselves.
As Grant says, we don’t have to stay tethered to one identity. What we decided as children doesn’t have to be our fate. Lord knows that is a good thing otherwise we’d have a surplus of princesses and ghostbusters running the world. While it may be convenient to decide quickly and early on, it isn’t always realistic. We have experiences and we learn and grown and assimilate new information. We evolve. There are things in life we simply can not decide on without the proper experience. And there are certain experiences in life that we are meant to have by ourselves because they are meant to determine the trajectory of who we are, to define our unique purpose.
I’ve preached a lot about flexibility and openness and embracing who we are. I haven’t always been the best example of it because, like all humans, I have my own doubts and fears. I enjoy my perceived security as much as the next person. I love to try things out, but I am weak on the follow through and I am impatient so I often don’t give things enough time to bud into what they are meant to be. But one thing I AM skilled at is taking in other people’s points of view and understanding how we got where we are. I am crystal clear on the idea that there is no one right answer when it comes to the human condition. But I am emphatic that there is a limited set of behaviors that fall into the category of “for the good of all” and I believe that we should behave that way. But that “should” word gets us all in trouble.
I digress. The point is that if you ever feel stuck, know that there are options. We are not obligated to be one thing our entire lives, no matter who it disappoints or concerns or frightens. As I said in the beginning, I’ve changed myself a million times. Little bits of each manifestation have stuck, but I’ve never been only one thing. Neither are you. Embrace the multi-faceted, creative, ever-changing person you are. Explore for a bit and learn something new about yourself. Learn, adapt, explore, create, repeat. And do it over and over again until the real you breaks through, all facets shining and sparkling, brilliant and bright as we are all meant to be. Little stars in our own lives. When we create our own light, we shine. We are meant to ignite the world. Share that light.