WHO Am I versus WHAT Am I

# learn to include me! Jan 11, 2022


People often identify themselves by the titles or roles they play.  When asked to tell people who they are many describe themselves as a parent, hairdresser, financial advisor, caretaker, and the list goes on. As a result, many times  these roles or “what we are”  get mistakenly incorporated into “who we are.”

How Important Are Roles?

The roles we play in life are important. The world revolves and depends on everyone fulfilling their role as a parent, doctor, teacher and much more. But have you ever felt deep inside that you are so much more than a title or a role that you play?  If you could no longer fulfill your role, what would happen to your identity?  Would you feel a sense of emptiness or a void? Do you fear that the loss of WHAT you are would translate into losing WHO you are?

 Do you hide behind your Roles?

Parents who struggle with empty nest no longer have the responsibility of caring daily for their children. Empty nesters may feel lost because one of the most significant roles in their lives has changed. People often go through similar feelings when their careers no longer provide a sense of meaning. You might begin to feel that the role you have been playing does not fit with WHO you are anymore. Ask yourself,  “Would you feel a deeper sense of belonging if you listened to the inner voice that speaks to WHO you are rather than WHAT you are?”  

 Letting go is never easy

I can relate to hiding behind roles and being out of alignment. I have been a licensed physical therapist since 1995. This year when my renewal for my license came again, I knew in my heart it was time to let it go. Yet the renewal sat on my desk untouched for 3 weeks. I was unable to push the button to deactivate my license. After 26 years,  I could not let go of WHAT I was. I loved being a physical therapist but I knew it was no longer WHO I am. 

When I finally deactivated my license, I shed a few tears and felt lost for a few days. Then I felt a huge sense of relief.  I had one less role I needed to play. There is freedom in getting rid of the window dressing involved in hiding behind roles that don’t fit anymore. I am now on another journey with the goal to once again align WHO I am with WHAT I am. Although change is difficult, whenever I allow WHO I am to drive my life, I have always found my deepest sense of fulfillment and belonging.

Life is a journey. If I could say anything, it would be to spend your life falling in love with who you are and not a role or identity that does not lead you to finding deeper joy and fulfillment. We all have that inner voice. Listen to it and carefully begin to align who you are with what you are.

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