Who am I when I am not who I used to be?
Who am I when my world has totally changed and everything I knew is gone?
Who am I when I don’t know who I am anymore?
It was more than a decade ago. I was sitting in my home office looking out the window and my phone began chiming with an incoming call. It was one of my son’s friends. I was excited to hear his voice and thankful that he had kept in touch with me since my son’s passing. He asked how I was doing and then he told me he would be graduating from college soon and was working on his resume. He asked if he could use me as a reference. My heart smiled as I thanked him for thinking of me and yes, yes of course he could. Then he asked the question,
“What should I put down as your title?”
I pushed away from my desk and forced my chair to lean back to catch the breath that had just been sucked from my chest. What is my title? Who am I?
I had worked another year after my son passed, but it never felt right. I felt disconnected. I had been through the most horrific time of my life and knew I needed to use my experiences to help others. It had been a few months since I had resigned from my executive position and I was not yet sure how my plan to be a speaker and writer would fall into place. I had given myself a year to figure out what my new work would look like. I knew what my title used to be. I knew who I used to be. But sitting in that moment, I was not sure who I was now.
I quietly paused on the phone while my mind held on to the bar of a trapeze that swung between the old me and the new me on the other side- afraid I might fall if I let go. Finally, I answered by telling him to state that I was the former Executive Director of the organization that I led for many years. When we said goodbye, he was satisfied with that. I wasn’t.
I knew I wanted to write and speak. I knew I was going to help people. I believed that all I had been through in my life was training for this new work. I didn’t know how it would play out, but I knew it would. For a long time I lived in the comfortable stability of what used to be. I used to be an Executive Director. Anything else didn’t feel real.
Then I began visualizing my new life, my new work and my new title. I practiced saying, I am a speaker and a writer. It took me a while to let go of that trapeze bar, swing freely in the untethered gap and begin creating who I was going to be on the other side.
After many speaking events and a lot of writing, I felt confident enough to own the title of Speaker/Writer. I was at an event when someone asked me what I did for work when I realized it was more than speaking and writing. I answered with, “I help people Love Their Life- NO MATTER WHAT!”
“Tell me more,” they said.
This opened a long conversation about how I do this. It allowed me to explain my speaking, books, blog, newspaper columns and my personal reason for doing the work I do. It was at that moment that I realized exactly who I am. I had created my mission, my work and my new life.
At some point we all find ourselves at a tipping point in life. When careers change, when death, divorce or retirement happens you may start asking the same questions that I did.
Who am I when I am not who I used to be? Who am I when my world has totally changed and everything I knew is gone? Who am I when I don’t know who I am anymore?
There are new answers. There can be a new you. Let go of the past and spend some time in the open space to allow opportunities and creativity to grow. You can change what you do, how you do it and who you are at any point in your life. You may not create the circumstance that leads to the questions, but you can create the answers.
Pennie’s Life Lesson: You can change who you are, what you do and how you do it.
Be brave enough to begin again.
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There is a certain magic about where I live both physically and spiritually – on the crossroads of Spirit and Brave.
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