- Mental Health»
Will the Real You Please Stand Up
Where Do I Fit In?
Identity Crisis Avoidance
Regardless of who someone is, no matter where they went to school or whom they know, there may be something lurking in the back of the mind, plaguing that person because he or she can't figure out the simple question of who they really are in terms of a life role. But there's a simple way to answer the question. It just takes some inner honesty in admitting not only who you are to the outside world but also who you are to yourself in your own imagination and dreams.
Just about every human being is ruled by the forces of society. We are part of a larger group of people in many respects. If we have employment, we can decide how important we may be by seeing how much we are paid. We would not be paid unless we were useful to society in some specific way.
But many people feel that their talents are wasted. They are not doing a job that would utilize the most unique skills they possess, either because there's too much competition and too little demand for people to do those jobs, or because perhaps they are in the wrong location to optimize chances of finding such employment.
When someone has certain talents they feel are their greatest potential contributions to society, and these talents are neither utilized nor appreciated in terms of a job, that person's feelings naturally would be offended. Many people must live their lives incapable of calling themselves professionals in the field of work that would employ their true interests. Out of economic necessity, all of us must accept whatever work we can find, even if it's much less interesting than the things we really care about. It's required to pay for the necessities of life, food and housing for ourselves and our families. Probably the vast majority of people are like this.
We might say there are at least two ways of identifying one's real self. The most common way is to go by the job title we are given by society or our employer. But the other way is to realize what it is that really captures our imagination, even if working in that field is not unrealistic.
The "starving artists" of the world are people who never do take a job just for the sake of money. They hold out to the end, waiting to be discovered. If someone wants to be an actor or actress, they might go to Hollywood to seek their fame and fortune. They might really have a unique talent, but many people have tried to make it in Hollywood while only a few have been able to make a good living as actors. Just because they can't earn a steady wage as an actor doesn't mean they have no right to call themselves actors and actresses. If they are trying seriously, they must have some talent. Society isn't successful enough to accommodate everyone with a paying job in those professions.
Someone who may be an actor, creative writer or musician can "find" his or her true self by admitting to themselves that their dreams are more their actual identity than the job they do at work. But people might ask them whether they get paid to do these jobs. If so, there should be no shame in admitting that they don't. It's so hard to make a living in some lines of work that it can be said that the vast majority of people with skills along those lines are not employed gainfully to utilize those skills.
The second way of identifying a person is to ask what they do for a living. It may be possible in these times, that the person would be unemployed. But their last job might define them for purposes of identity. Even if they dream of being rock stars or famous actresses, they must accept some "day job" to support themselves while they dream of being someone else.
Many application forms ask for our occupation. We have to answer such questions seriously and put down the job we have, not our dream career. But in our hearts we might know that another way of identifying ourselves would be more accurate because it involves our self-respect and imagination. But even if our soul is attached to that second identity, most people would be able to pursue it only as a hobby after work.
Someone may drive a taxi and yet, in his mind he's a movie actor. Or another person may be a waitress, while she imagines herself to be a model. Realizing that so many people have these alternative dreams of being someone else, it's easy to talk about a dual identity with others, without being so embarrassed. Admitting who we are after work is a great step forward toward finding our identity.