When I left the corporate world, I did so just weeks before my wedding. Soon after returning from our honeymoon I realised that I was pregnant….
Whilst I was happy as this was our “plan” (as much as you can plan things like this)....I remember feeling a rollercoaster of emotions about everything.
I kept thinking….
- How am I going to look after this baby? Can I really do this?
- Who am I supposed to be now? Married, jobless and pregnant?
- What’s MY purpose?
- A sense of worthlessness without having a fancy job to define me
- Unsure of whether my business ideas was really something for me or just a pipedream (side note: it turned out to be the wrong idea but more on that in the blog)
- Shame for not having a job….Did people think I was just going to rest on my laurels now that I was married? That’s soooo not me.
With all the changes happening…
- In my work (employed to unemployed)
- Relationship (single to married)
- Name (maiden to married)
- Home (<400 sq ft apartment in the city to move to the ‘burbs)
Truth be told....
My identity crisis was inevitable
Many of the women I speak to in my community and client circle identify with having had an identity crisis at some point in their lives.
Becoming a mother, changing careers, moving countries, facing an illness, these times of COVID and the Black Lives Matter movement ….all of this can get us to question and ask ourselves:
"Who the hell am I?"
Being in an identity crisis can feel like winter (cold and isolating), confusing and disorienting. YET it’s the key to liberation and freedom.
Having an identity crisis is the time you wake up and get to realise that all the roles you play don’t define you. The real you. The essence of who you inherently are.
Side note: If you need clarity on who you really are, make sure you take the Soul Archetype Quiz and get started with reclaiming the REAL you.
If all you take from my blog today is ONE thing, I want it to be this:
You are SO much more than what you do, what you wear, what you look like, the money you earn and the labels and titles the world has prescribed for you. Who you are is inherently worthy, valuable, loveable and enough.
Deeply I know this to be true. When you reclaim your inherent worth, value and self-love, this changes everything. You click back into who you really are and make aligned decisions around your life, your work, your relationships from THIS place.
Having an identity crisis is the moment you wake up and see how the Perfect Woman Imperative has been running the show.
This Perfect Woman Imperative is an invisible narrative which says that you have to be perfect (have a career, be an ever present mum, yoga toned, effortlessly stylish, pleasing and nice etc) in order to be “good” enough or worthy.
Naturally when one of the areas of our life changes and we’re not meeting the expectations of what is deemed “normal” “acceptable” or “right” or what we “should” do...then naturally we question ourselves….and often we can spiral into a funk.
If you’re through an identity crisis, I’ve got you. You’re in the right place.
Let's dive in!
Part 1: What Is An Identity Crisis?
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, an identity crisis can be defined as:
A personal psychosocial conflict….that involves confusion about one's social role and often a sense of loss of continuity to one's personality
i.e. It’s when you feel lost about who you are and are navigating a change in how you define yourself.
According to Very Well Mind, the concept of an “identity crisis” originates in the work of developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, who believed that the formation of identity was one of the most important parts of a person's life.
Our teenage years (ages 12-18) are one of the most fundamental periods of our life when we establish our own identity for the first time, separate from our parents. Subconsciously we may pick up on the rules of what is an acceptable identity is and what is not.
Here are some of the rules I picked up and deemed to be true about my identity during my teenage years....
- Working women are more valuable to society than non-working women
- Staying busy and productive are the way forward to success
- Staying quiet and not speaking up is safer than speaking up and rocking the boat
- Being smart is important. Being stupid and making silly mistakes isn’t acceptable
- I have to be the responsible one
- It’s easier to embrace more of my western heritage than it is my asian heritage
- Being anything other than heterosexual means you’re different
I formed an identity that derived value from the grades I received, the job roles I was offered, how appeasing I could be, and how busy I could keep to be “successful.”
As a cis-gendered, heterosexual, bi-racial yet white passing woman this is how I defined myself.
Reflection Q: What identity did you form for yourself when you were a teenager?
Part 2: Why You're Having An Identity Crisis
As frustrating, disorienting and hard as an identity crisis may be, it’s a rite of passage. You’re human.
It’s normal to experience them as we transition through life because we are always growing and evolving.
An identity crisis can happen when we:
- Move cities or countries
- Start a new relationship
- End a relationship
- Change companies, industries or careers
- Lose a job or are made redundant
- Become parents
- Face an illness
- Lose a loved one
- Undergo a tragedy
- Wake up to the external circumstances in the world (politics, climate change, social justice etc.)
- Experience a traumatic event
- Take a risk and it doesn’t work out (at first)
- Have a spiritual awakening
Reflection Q: Which of the above is triggering your identity crisis? How many of the above are happening for you right now? Or is there something else?
Part 3: What To Do About Your Identity Crisis
I mean it. Take 3 deep breaths now and remember you’ve got this.
As psychologist, author and speaker Brenda Shoshanna says:
“Unless we based our sense of identity on the truth of who we are, it’s impossible to attain true happiness.”
In other words…
This is an exciting time to start to begin to redefine the truth of who YOU really are and to live from this place.
Is it going to be clear cut and defined?
No. You are following your own rules.
Is it going to be easy?
Is it going to mean you’re always happy?
No. I don't believe the point of life is to be happy but instead to fully feel what it means to be a human having a human experience.
Is it going to feel aligned and true for you?
At the end of the day all we have is our gut intuition telling us if something is “right” or “wrong” for us. The only way we can feel that is if we begin to trust and honour who we really are.
How do you build that trust?
You begin by dropping out of your head and into your body.
Your mind can’t always be believed and loves spinning stories that will keep you safe and protected and not taking risks.
Your mind’s job is to keep you safe and secure. This does not equate with being happy.
YOU are your own guru.
YOU have your own answers.
YOU know your yes and your no.
You just may not remember how to access this connection that was there all along.
Side note: If you want to hear more about how learning the tools of embodiment and accessing your body’s wisdom has changed my life both personally and professional, you can check out this blog post over at the School of Embodied Arts (where I’m a Feminine Embodiment Coaching Teaching Assistant) called The 3 Ways Embodiment Has Made Me A Better Coach, Wife, Mother and Woman.
I want you to know...
"Your identity isn’t tied to your job; your identity is tied to who you are"
Reflection Q: What new possibilities are available to me as I embrace the REAL me? What fears, doubts and questions arise as I answer this?
So, where to from here?
The foundation of my 1:1 work with clients is about getting R.E.A.L.
This is the personal work that’s needed to navigate your way into a Soul Aligned Career and becoming a Soul Aligned Woman, a woman who knows who she is deep in her bones.
Here’s a quick recap of what getting R.E.A.L means to me:
Reclaim: Unlearning the beliefs that keep us playing small so that you can own your uniqueness, strengths, gifts and self in the “never enough” culture we live in.
Express: Claim your lane and what you stand for you in your work. Express your gifts, voice, perspective in all areas of your life.
Align: Carve out your own path to your definition of success for this phase of your life and career journey.
Live: Embody the real you in your everyday, devoting to your desires and intuition so that you can live, love work and lead in sustainable, nourishing, liberatory and pleasure-filled ways.
The first step to coming back to the REAL you is to honour the natural gifts and talents that you have.
When you honour your natural gifts and talents you can begin to answer the question…
“Who am I? What’s my purpose? What am I here for?”
If you’re wanting to figure out what your natural gifts and talents are, you can start by taking the free soul archetype quiz.
If you haven't already done so, you can take the Soul Archetype Quiz to discover yours. Simply click on the icon below to be taken to the free quiz.
There’s no one in the world quite like you. You have a unique soul archetype that you’re here to express in the world.
Finding out your archetype can help you build on your strengths, be more of who you really are and do more of what you’re here to do.
***Spoiler alert: I’ll be launching an intimate group experience designed to support you in navigating your identity crisis by getting clear on who you really are + what you’re here to do so that you can finally make a soul aligned decision on whether to stay in your existing role or do something else. If you’re interested in being the first to know about this and getting access to some juicy first to know bonuses, you can pop your name over here on the waitlist***
That's a wrap
Thank you for stopping by!
Now I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and let me know:
- What is causing you to have your identity crisis?
- What is your biggest question you are trying to answer right now?
P.S. If you're wanting guidance and support to make a soul aligned decision on whether to stay in your existing role or do something else, I'll be running the Soul Aligned Career intimate group program experience in the next couple of months. If you’re interested in being the first to know about this and getting access to some juicy bonuses, you can pop your name over here on the waitlist.
P.P.S. If you want to go deeper into this topic, come and join me in the Soul Aligned Professional Women Facebook Group. In this group I deliver REALignment workshops to compassionate leaders and seekers who want to find their REAL selves and live, love and lead in ways that are sustainable, just and liberating. Simply click on the image below to join!