It’s the end of summer, and I’m in the grips of a dark cloud. I repeatedly awaken to a fog that infiltrates my brain and a darkness that descends upon my heart. The depression that I thought long-gone has returned like an unwanted guest; one that I know will leave eventually, but for how long it will linger, I’m never quite sure.
IT WASN’T UNTIL SOME MONTHS LATER THAT I COULD UNDERSTAND THE REASON FOR THIS DARK SEASON: TRANSITIONING FROM A CORPORATE CAREER TO A CREATIVE ONE PROVED MORE DIFFICULT THAN I HAD ANTICIPATED.
I no longer had a fancy title and a consistent income. Instead I was working for myself, still trying to navigate the tricky path so many of us experience when making a major life change: Defining my new identity.
It led me to question the titles that are bestowed on us in life, even if we are willing participants in the associated roles we play; wives, mothers, in our careers and more. Titles tell so little of the living, breathing woman we really are, and I am so much more than an empty shell with a bunch of labels attached to me. But at the end of that dark summer, I couldn’t quite see this; my worth still too attached to the title of my job; too tightly bound to money and status.
Certainly, titles help other people to identify with us, and we’ve all been asked, “What do you do?”. I’m not making a case for removing them, but rather to look beyond what we do to who we are.
I started to explore this myself by taking a sheet of paper and writing down all of my roles and the words, thoughts and feelings I had about each of them. For example, I stopped thinking about my responsibilities as a wife or a daughter and thought about how demonstrating love is vital to those relationships and what that really meant instead. I began to see that what my friends value me for isn’t my cooking skills, but my desire to create community; to show them through food that I am warm, welcoming and engaged in their lives. When it came to work, I started to realize that the job title no longer mattered. These days when I’m asked what I do, I prefer to use descriptive words and say that I work with women to help them live the most joyful lives they can.
As a result of this exercise, I have a much richer understanding of myself. I believe love, warmth, inspiration and joy aren’t just words. They’re pieces of me. We are far more than a title or a standard description for a role. We’re what we love and our values and the things we truly believe in, and for each of us that looks quite different, even if our titles are exactly the same.