We all have an identity, it’s how we survive in this world. And mine undeniably has productive in it.
I’ve been traveling for the past 3 weeks, hanging out with my nephew in Seattle, chilling with college friends in Hood River, and finally settling in Portland for a few weeks to try out a different lifestyle.
To be really honest, it hasn’t been a productive couple weeks for me.
The lifestyle in general is way more relaxed than what I’m used to. My husband was on vacation, which means he didn’t even check email.
On the other hand, I’m trying to run a business while traveling. And those of you who have your own business would understand — that there is no such thing as a real vacation where I can drop everything.
It’s been a struggle to give myself permission to be unproductive.
Not only I struggled with not doing things related to work, I struggled with not doing things, period!
When I finally unplugged from work, I got bored and restless before lunch time. And I quickly filled up the empty space with things a vacationer would do — hiking, visiting breweries, eating at trendy restaurants, taking tons of sunset pictures, and catching up on movies.
The truth is, I define myself by what I do. And I just do different things in different modes.
The first day we went back to work while staying in Portland was a tough day for me. Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t dread going back to work.
What I dreaded was the inability to go back to my routine — I didn’t have a pottery studio to go to; the yoga class I like is an hour away; the pole dancing class I wanted to do is not available on weekdays; and the climbing class conflicts with my meetings.
All a sudden, I’m stripped from everything that I do that’s related to my identity!
And I was left with this empty, spacious, and scary feeling.
I was forced to be with myself.
I believe that we all identify ourselves by what we do in our everyday life to a certain extent.
It’s easy, it’s tangible and we have evidence of it. It’s much easier to tell someone that I’m an emotional healing coach, rather than explaining my philosophy that “what do I do” doesn’t tell you anything about me.
The downside: As soon as the things we do become inaccessible, we feel lost and confused.
What if… the identity of what we do actually limits how we can view and experience life?
What if… using what we do as an identity is simply a way to protect ourselves?
If we are willing to let that go and see what other possibilities exist, we may end up doing things that we never considered before. We may end up with all sorts of new possibilities that we didn’t think was possible.
That day of intense discomfort created a moment of realization and peace.
I can force myself to do something for the sake of doing something. Or I can take a hard look at how I’ve been defining myself, with all these things that I do, and what am I missing out on in the process?
That moment was a big flashing stop sign telling me to stop and look, and I did.
It doesn’t mean I will never go back to doing things. But that moment of emptiness and fear happened to tell me something, and my part was to stop and notice. It simply gave me a choice.
Here’s your flashing stop sign!
Take a breathe, stop, and pay attention. How are you defining yourself by what you do?
Share with me in the comment below.