Have you ever wondered who you are?
Yes? No? All the time?
So, who are you?
Who are you? What is your identity? And what happens when you don’t know any more who you are?
When I interviewed people in retirement, the topic of identity came up as a bombshell in this sentence:
“When you are employed, you have your position, your badge, your place, your colleagues. When you retire, you go from somebody to nothing.”
It can be especially hard if you love your work. If your job is part of your identity. If your work gives you a lot of positive mental stimulation and personal satisfaction.
Leaving your successful career behind can trigger a lot of questions, even an identity crisis. Who am I? Where do I belong to? How can I feel good in my own skin again?
Let’s have a look at the identity crisis itself
What are possible causes of identity crisis?
You can check this great article on Identity Crisis: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment published on healthline.com. Typically, big life changes and certain age (midlife crises) can trigger identity crises. For example:
I’d like to add to the list also:
How do you know if you are going through an identity crisis?
Per earlier mentioned healthline.com article the signs are the following:
Let’s pause a bit and take a step back.
Is it bad to go through an identity crisis and question who you are?
I believe not! As human beings we are constantly growing, expanding our understanding of self and the world. And the identity crisis is a deep process of questioning our values, beliefs and life goals. Questioning that opens our mind to new insights, perspectives and takes us to the next level.
Natali Morad in her blog post How To Be An Adult— Kegan’s Theory of Adult Development summarizes Dr. Robert Kegan’s Theory on how adults go through 5 distinct developmental stages (just like children).
The theory tells me that questioning who we are is the best way to move to a higher developmental stage.
What are the stages and what happens there? Check more details in Natali’s article, but what she describes is the following:
What stage of development are you at?
STAGE 2 — Imperial mind (adolescence, 6% of adult population)
STAGE 3 — Socialized mind (58% of the adult population)
STAGE 4 — Self-Authoring mind (35% of the adult population)
STAGE 5 — Self-Transforming mind (1% of the adult population)
Ready to get to the next level of your development and find your new identity?
Ready to bust through all your own myths about who you are or who you should be? Ready to find more purpose, alignment, and peace?
Then ask yourself some of the following questions as recommended by the healthline.com and combined with my own questions:
If you read until now, well done! The topic of identity is a huge topic, in the same way as going through an identity crisis.
It can be a long, frustrating process. It helps when you get supported by a therapist or a coach. I went through my own identity crisis in my 40’s and I was grateful for all the support I had. It felt like going through muddy waters.
But the journey is worth it. It’s cleansing, rejuvenating, and liberating. Always remember that there’s a special gift at the end: getting to another level of your development and discovering another level of your inner freedom. If you haven’t read my article on freedom, make sure you check it out.