Let’s talk about labels. We all naturally cling to them…runner, vegetarian, doctor, writer, mother, traveler, etc. I’m sure if you take a second to think about it, you could come up with at least 10 labels to “define” yourself. And it’s not that labels are always a bad thing. Labels can give us some guidance in life, help demonstrate our true passions. But things get a little tricky when you start to place your identity in those labels. You put so much pressure on that label that without it, you get thrown off course in a major way.
So what happens when that thing that you consider to define you is gone? Even if just temporarily? Who are you then?
I’ve asked myself that question multiple times in the last few months. A serious ankle injury mid-race left me unable to fly through trees on dusty trails or hit the pavement at the crack of dawn. Shortly after, we sold the RV, and I was no longer “On the Road.” And although this was planned, only temporary, and it’s for bigger and better things, the struggle is just as real. In a matter of weeks I no longer felt like a Runner and an RV’er (RV’er is such a silly term but you get the point). Suddenly I wasn’t able to lace up my shoes and run a 22 mile training run, or spend long days driving to our destination of choice and wandering as we please.
And you know what? I started feeling really lost. It’s been quite the transformational time, and stuff sort of hit the fan for me it felt like. Of course it’s okay that I miss my long pain-free runs, that I crave it so intensely and can not wait until I can run far again (sidenote-I’m up to 4 miles now BLESS UP) Or that I’m counting down the days until I’m roaming free. But, it’s not so awesome that for a hot second I was feeling very confused as to who I really was. I would literally think, “I can’t run?? How will I do running posts? What will I write about? How will I introduce myself if right now I can’t say I’m a runner and training for something? Or currently living in an RV wandering?” There’s a difference between passionately loving something, and clinging to it for dear life.
The good news is, the temporary ‘loss’ of these things has shown me just how important they are in my life and I would like to keep it that way. But, in a non-attachment sort of way. I’m beyond grateful for their presence in my life, and the lifestyle I have formed around them. They are a part of me. A big one. But, they aren’t ALL that I am. You see, you can’t feel so attached to a label that you feel as if it’s all you are. Your worth doesn’t lie in that label. In that word. You are SO much more than a label.
That label might be holding you back. You may feel so attached to that label that you are actually stuck, even if you want something different in your life. You may think “Everyone knows me as such and such. I can’t just change that!”
But, you can.
Because that label doesn’t define you. Who are you when society isn’t telling you what to be?
You are NOT what you do. In fact, you are those qualities that come out when you are doing that thing you truly love. The thing that brings you unparalleled joy and sets your soul on fire. You aren’t just an author, a wife, a therapist, a swimmer.
You are creativity.
And you should act as such!
So next time you think about who you are (come on, I know the thought pops into your head!), I challenge you to avoid using the “do-er” words that first come to mind. Whether they hold you back or not. Instead, think of who you are when you peel back those actions and duties and careers and physical activities. You just might find who you really are.