Today we’re going to do something a little different. Instead of talking about disabilities I want to discuss another topic, identity.
One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever heard was a simple three words. “Diversify your identity” – Hank Green. It’s a simple bit of advice really, but it’s never talked about.
As a 22-year-old, I and everyone around me are struggling with the classic issues of ‘what to do with my life?’. It’s a tough conundrum that I never think that there’s an answer for it – or at least not a simple one. But it seems to me that it’s the wrong question.
People usually choose their carer based on their identity. For example, one identifies themselves as a writer they often chose to be a novelist or blogger. If your identity is in how smart you are and your love for chemistry, you may choose to be a biochemist. These are all great decisions, but I think what the struggle is the idea that we’re meant to do or be one thing for the rest of our lives. Being a biochemist forever can seem overwhelming and suffocating. That notion is drilled into us from the second we can communicate. It’s one of the first things that people ask to make conversation. Kids always seem to say the classic ‘Rockstar’ or ‘actor’. It’s then that the seed of being one thing forever gets planted. From that second, constantly grows. Cut to now when everyone is freaking out, all because we have to abide by this societal rule. One career type until we die
What no one seems to acknowledge is that there have been teachers who turned into comedians. Actors who have become nurses, and everything in between. See, no matter what everyone claims, humans aren’t designed to live their life with only one goal. You have a goal for right now and see what happens. All of these goals usually revolve around identity.
Most people talk to me for an hour and see that my identity is wrapped up in my disability and writing. However, we as a race are not that simple. My identity also comes from God, being a nerd, psychology, creating projects and a plethora of other things. Right now, my goal is to be a novelist. But in ten years who knows where or what I will be? I may be a teacher, or a disability advocate, or a podcaster, or a scientist. All of the things I do in my life, all the career shifts and different ideas will not be a mistake. They will all be a part of my journey and what I needed at that time.
Identity is flexible but the danger comes from it being based on only one thing. That is where Hank’s quote becomes so important. If my writing career got ripped away from me, it would be horrible. However, I know that I would survive and that my future has options past this writing. I know that who I am is more important than my career. If we diversify our identity, there is so much more out there for us. We deserve to explore that.
Please don’t buy into the lie that one thing defines us. That our career decisions at 18 are the ones we must stick with. Go with your joys and passions. Breathe because there is more to your life than what you see right in front of you. Take it one day at a time.
I hope that you guys didn’t mind me stepping away from the disability topic this week. Thank you for reading.
Please, remember to be kind to yourself and those around you.