Your identity is flexible and you can be whoever you want.
There’s something in the air. So many people I know (myself included) are at a time in their lives where all of a sudden, they’re not who they knew themselves to be any more.
Relationships and marriages have ended or begun, friendships have changed, careers have developed, businesses have been started, children have been born, houses have been moved.
And along with the excitement of new circumstances, there’s also this lost feeling, a kind of ungrounded confusion. Who am I? What happened to the me that I thought I was? The self I was doesn’t fit anymore. Who am I now?
It can be a really shitty feeling.
It can also be exciting and liberating, if you recognise it for what it is — opportunity. An open space for you to create yourself.
Times like these, you have two choices. You can either drift along, and with time, you’ll slowly stumble into a new version of yourself that reflects how your life has changed.
Or, you can decide THIS IS WHO I WANT TO BE, and you can go make it happen. It’s much harder to do this. And, it’s immeasurably more rewarding.
You didn’t just wake up one day as the person you are now. It happened slowly, over the course of your life, as your experiences and relationships and beliefs and cultural conditioning shaped how you see yourself.
So if you decide you’re going to be more intentional about who you are now — it’s not going to take you another lifetime to grow into the person you want to be, but it will take time, awareness and consistent, conscious choices.
An important note: choosing your own identity is much more fun and rewarding if you come to it from a place of curiosity and play. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with who you are right now. You don’t need to fix yourself. The current version of you is a success — it got you to where you are in life.
But maybe there are experiences you want to have, maybe there are parts of you that are calling to be explored. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be more confident. Maybe you’ve always wished you had an entrepreneurial spirit. Maybe you want to feel more alive — vibrant, lit up, joyful, excited by life.
Here are some questions to think about, when you start considering the idea that your identity is flexible and you can be whoever you want:
- What qualities do you admire in other people?
- What do you want other people to say about you?
- How do you want to feel?
- What do you want your life to be?
- What do YOU desire? For yourself? For your life? For your relationships? For the world?
- What feels scary? Too much? Unattainable?
- What do you need to heal, in order to create this new identity?
What do you see in other people that you want for yourself?
You spot it, you got it.
If there’s something you look at in someone and think ‘I wish I could have that’ — you probably do. It’s just latent right now.
When we are small, as we grow, we learn there are certain traits and ways of behaving that aren’t okay. Perhaps we’re told ‘boys don’t cry’, or that we’re too sensitive, and we need to toughen up. Perhaps we’re told we’re too excitable, and told to tone it down. Perhaps we’re told it’s not ‘nice’ to be angry, and so we grow up struggling to maintain healthy boundaries. Perhaps we’re judged or shamed for our fashion choices, for our interests (maybe we’re told we can’t make a living from making art or writing). Perhaps it’s not acceptable or not safe for us to be loud or sexy or intelligent or seen in the culture or family we grew up in.
And so we bury these parts of ourselves so we will be safe, so we will be loved, so we will belong. And we see others creating great art, and we wish we could do that. We wish we had that person’s fashion sense, or the confidence to wear those shoes. We hear an amazing speaker and wish we were that articulate. We see someone who’s comfortable in their own skin and wish we had their sensual ease.
We probably do. Buried under a lifetime of hiding it. I’ll lend you a shovel. Let’s dig.
Want to be confident? You got it.
Want to be sexy? It’s there.
Want to be gloriously, magically alive? Right here waiting for you.
Know what you want.
First, have an idea of who you want to be. It doesn’t have to be crystal clear, yet — an inkling of an idea is enough. What parts of you are calling to be explored? What does that version of you look like? What qualities do you want to develop?
Know why you want it.
What will you have, when you embody this new version of you? WHY do you want more confidence? Why do you want to feel more alive? What will your life look like if you feel more at ease in your own skin?
Embody it. Slowly.
Knowing what you want and why you want it is a good start, but keeping it as a picture in your mind won’t change much. The next step is to embody it — to bring this new self into your body. How do you stand? How do you walk? What sensations do you feel, when you’re feeling more confident, or more sensual, or more intelligent, or expressing clear boundaries? Do you feel the ground more? Do you stand taller? Do you smile? What does your face feel like, as this version of you?
Bringing these new qualities and experiences into your body begins to create them as real. Your nervous system gets a lived, felt experience of what the picture in your mind is like, and it learns that it’s okay for you to be confident, to be sexy, to have clear boundaries. It’s safe for you to be this new version of you.
Explore the parts of you who don’t want it.
It’s likely that some of you isn’t so on board with the idea of the change you’re making. To some of you, it might feel terrifying. Which makes total sense — there is a reason your confidence or aliveness or sensuality or ability to say no has been buried for so long. Perhaps it wasn’t safe to be that excited, or perhaps there was a sense you wouldn’t belong if you didn’t tone it down. These reasons are super valid, and the parts of you that aren’t so sure about what you’re wanting to change have been keeping you safe for a long time. Perhaps they’re protecting you from threats that don’t exist anymore, but they’re doing a great job.
Take some time to look at what comes up when you begin to embody this new version of you. If you feel resistance — look into it. What are you resisting? Why? What does that part of you need, in order to feel okay? The same with fear, tension, spacing out — these are all communicating things to you. Get curious and look at what they’re saying and how you can support them.
Get support — have your growth reflected back to you.
So much of our identity is tied up in what others reflect back to us. It’s one thing to create a new you by yourself in your house, but what happens when you take this newness out into the world? It can feel really vulnerable, because so much of who we know ourselves to be is related to how others perceive us.
Maybe they see us as a good listener, or ‘the funny one’, or as flaky and always late. We see our identity reflected back to us in the way others relate to us.
It can be super helpful to let some close friends know what you’re doing, and ask them to reflect back to you the ways they see you as this new self. Ask them to tell you what they love about you, ask them to tell you when they see you as being more alive, or more confident. Ask them to celebrate you.
This builds a sense of trust and confidence in your new identity, and with time, you’ll embody it more and more. Your nervous system learns you can be confident, and belong. You can be sensual, and be safe. You can have clear boundaries, and be loved.
It’s also super helpful to work with a professional while you’re exploring these deep questions of identity. They can help you hold the stuck places, heal what needs to be healed, see through your own blind spots, and celebrate the hell out of who you are and who you are becoming.
You really can be whoever you want.