A long time ago, I watched a movie in which a husband was arguing with his wife. She was trying to stop him from doing something. And, to her objections, he pleaded desperately, "Please - I have to do this; as a man, I need to do this." I can't remember what movie it was; but, I believe that we can all relate to this sentiment in some form. At the end of the day, we all have our own identity - we all have somebody that we want to be. And, when that identity gets stripped from us, it can be devastating.
For the past few weeks, I've been in a little bit of a funk. I haven't given it much thought, drifting from day to day, assuming that I'll just muscle through it. But, over the weekend, I watched a heartbreaking movie - The Company Men. In the movie, thousands of people lose their jobs as a multibillion dollar company downsizes. The movie chronicles the toll that such a change can take on a few of their lives.
While the practical implications of job loss are obvious, there is perhaps another subtle, but equally devastating outcome - the loss of identity. For many - myself included - a job isn't just a source of income, it's an outlet and a means to self-expression. And, without a job, we can quickly lose sight of who we are. We can cease to feel complete.
After watching this movie, I started to think about my own identity and the dip that I've been going through. How do I define myself? When I wake up in the morning, who is the person that I long to be?
When I dig deep, I can come up with four core threads to my own personal fabric. I am:
There are many other things in life that I love; but, it is only when these four things come under attack that I truly feel like I lose a sense of who I am. And the erosion doesn't have to be wide-spread; if any one of these threads begins to unravel, I can very quickly feel a sense of incompleteness.
Watching "The Company Men" definitely struck a chord in me; I have people in my life - people that I love - that I don't know how to help. I can't provide for them. But this is not the only area in which I have felt yearning. For months, my workouts have been a joke; my diet is junky and my strength is way down. And, when it comes to programming, I haven't been moving forward at all; there are a million things that I want to learn that I simply haven't made the time for them.
The good news is, identity is (mostly) internal. No one can take it from me - I can simply allow it to degrade. This means that the power [and the responsibility] to rebuild is in my hands. I know what I have to do. The path before me is clear. I just have to start walking it.