I’ve reinvented myself several times. After the death of my parents and my husband in a 20-month time span, I reinvented myself on a massive scale. No longer a daughter or a wife, for the first time ever I was just ME. I floundered for awhile before arriving at one of the best decisions I’ve ever made: to become a Mediator. Yes, I reinvented myself. And those of you who have ever had a conversation with me might recall that I have strong opinions about reinvention. I think it’s a privilege, and anyone can do it at any age.
What about you? Are you a parent, a spouse, a partner, an employee, a sibling, a cousin, a team member? Do all those labels comprise your identity? When one label changes, how does it affect the rest? Does your identity begin and end with your occupation? I hope not, because what happens when, either by choice or by default, your occupation changes? Does your identity change as well?
Let’s say you’re poised to dive into a new swimming pool. Now what? Here are some steps to take along the way to give you an advantage:
Step #1: Ditch the labels. Your identity is much greater than a single label, so it’s probably not a good idea to limit yourself.
Step #2: Find a mentor. Look for someone who’s lived a little so that you can learn from his/her experience.
Step #3: Have some patience. You may not have a passion at the beginning of this reinvention process. Or, you may be super-passionate, but it’s not happening fast enough to suit you.
Step #4: Hurry up. I know, I know. I just told you to be patient. At the same time, you probably won’t get badly hurt if you get on with it before the world (or the opportunity) passes you by. Visualization is great, and so is action.
Step #5: Read books. I cannot emphasize this enough. Reading makes you smarter. Smarter people are generally more successful. Does it matter what you read? You have to decide for yourself.
Step #6: Make your weaknesses your strengths. If you’re an introvert, remember to be a good listener and a relentless observer.
Step #7: Be grateful. Instead of making the negative list of everything that’s going wrong, try to remember what’s going right.
Now it’s time for me to circle back to the identity question. If and when you reinvent yourself, are you messing with your identity? I can definitely say, maybe. From my personal experience in the reinvention arena, my life’s actual path has been nowhere close to what I imagined it would be. My identity has evolved and hopefully will continue to evolve as I learn, grow, experience, and change.
Reinvention along the way is not about my identity. It’s about my biography.
Do you agree? Disagree? How have you reinvented yourself? I’d love to start a conversation.
Hmmmm… Great subject and ideas and questions posed. Need to think about this.
Evolving, “reinventing”,seems to be a ongoing process. As you describe, due to the conditions and situations of our current position in life. Years ago there was a TV show, I think it was “To Tell the Truth”. A person was described and then 3 people came out and were asked questions pertaining the the description and could answer truthfully or not. Then they guessed who was the “real” one. As I was washing my bathroom floor, I wondered who was the real me. The wife who dealt with the man in my life;the mother,who scolded, refereed, cared for my family or the RN who cared and comforted the sick and socialized with co-workers. Each “role” seemed to require a different personality. Now, as a widow,children living and loving with their own, and after a long time adjustment, I find myself , I feel through necessity, becoming another “me”. Good or bad a reinvention. Sorry for the punctuation errors.
Love this post… I am all for reinvention and getting rid of the labels. I rebuilt my identity after a brain injury. Now instead of using labels, I tie my identity to my values. With that, no matter the role I find myself in – dad, partner, friend, business owner – and not matter how often or drastically those roles change, my core remains the same. I have learned that so many times we take what we do or what we like and turn that into a form of identity – “I am a foodie”, “I’m en entrepreneur”, etc. Those things are what we do, not who we are. If I have to cut out certain food or lose my business, those do not change my identity, they merely change what I do. It took me a stroke and many years of navigating the questions “who am I?”, “Who do I want to be”. and “Why?” This article is awesome!
Great topic! I have had the pleasure of reinventing myself several times in this thing we call life. With each new “self” I had an adventure which brought me to the next reinvention. Because I have done this, I am on a path of telling my story so I can let others know that it’s ok to move out of your current “place” and change your path. Something may be pulling you in another direction, follow it, listen to your gut because it’s another door opening and calling your name. If it doesn’t pan out, keep on moving forward. You are NEVER too old to reinvent yourself. I personally have never lost my identity because I keep a little of each one with me, always.