Blue-collar, white collar, chief executive, day laborer, and stay at home mom, and the list goes on. Words that we use to describe who we are and what we do; they may even shed some light on who we are as individuals. Really they are just labels; labels that many of us are deeply invested in. Labels that hold so much power and sway in our personal orbs that if we are faced with the reality of losing our labels, it can rock us to our core.
For the past several weeks in the midst of the professional storms that I am facing, I have found myself in the quiet moments wondering who will I be if I can’t turn things around? For the past four years, I have been known primarily by my professional accomplishments and at times my ego has sucked it all up. The ego has a tendency to thrive on accolades and accomplishments, it feels good. Yet the ego is not my friend and I know this, but the ego is that lover who is bad for you but you just can’t quite break free of…not even for your own good. No one is completely free of ego and the ego knows it, hence my own desire to work towards mindfulness at all times. I can’t shake ego but I can at least be aware of it.
I realized that should I cease to be the executive director of my agency, I will still be me. If my column for the Portland Phoenix should end, I will still be me. Hell, I could lose my family and I would still be me. I am more than the roles I play and the labels I wear. The labels I wear and embrace may say something about me, but they are not me. The problem is we live in a time where our labels say so much, that to lose or change labels especially on the things we as a society deem to be most important in the eyes of others are the hardest to lose. It’s why America has a middle class problem. We all claim that label even in the face of clear data that says otherwise. We are more than our class levels, we are more than our jobs but it takes time to accept that truth and feel comfortable in it.
As for me, no matter what happens I will make peace with just being me. Individually made and unique. Growth requires change and change requires accepting that nothing stays the same, not even our labels.