I am a very different person to the one I was 10 years ago. Hell, I’m different to the person I was 10 days ago. I mean, I’m not completely different but I have evolved and continue to do so. I think that’s the thing that makes life more colourful, more enjoyable; being able to look back and see how far we’ve come and use that as an inspiration to keep on growing.
I like to consider my own growth as being a mix of gentle evolution combined with forced change (much of which dragged me kicking and screaming along with it). Part of that has meant being prepared to let go of some of the things I thought were fixed as elements of my identity so that I could release the things that no longer served me to make room for new things. If you’d have asked me five or ten years ago to talk about my identity, much if it was tied up in the rawness of my experiences with depression and anxiety… now, most of that is part of my past just like old careers and previous cities I used to live in, so even though much of the work I currently do is in the mental health space, now my focus is on using those experiences (and my studies) to help other people – in other words, finding ways to give to others as a way of paying forward the kindness shown to me during my darkest days years ago.
I find great comfort in knowing that identity is not fixed and that evolution is constant. Many people might want things not to change however I quite like being able to reflect and consider the many lessons I’ve learned from all the different lives I’ve lives so far. That might sound a bit philosophical (and if so then so be it) but I think being able to learn as much as we can in order to grow as much as we can is a fundamental aspect of life; I’ve said in the Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast many times that I believe the purpose of life is to be the best version of yourself possible and you do that by growing a little each day, so this whole learning thing is pretty important. If you don’t learn you don’t grow, and if you don’t grow, well… I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to be stuck in the one place literally or figuratively. One of my all-time favourite quotes, by Karen Kaiser Clark, sums it up perfectly: “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”
As I’m preparing to take another step in the evolution of my identity by launching No-Nonsense Advice for Living on YouTube on May 1 and expanding the work I do beyond just the subject area of mental health, I wonder what I’ll think about my identity in another five or ten years’ time? 🤔