A year ago today was the last time I was a permanent employee. I was about to venture on my sabbatical, aka the great life adventure. Little did I know that at the centre of it, was going to be a question of identity.
As I travelled through Asia, the two most common questions I heard from locals and tourists alike were “What do you do?” and “Where are you from?”. These were also the two most difficult questions for me to answer. I would jump in a clumsy fashion from “My background is in public relations” to “I’m interested in coaching” and “I live in Australia” or “I’m originally French Canadian”. Straightforward answers with ambiguous delivery. Other times, I would be humming and hawing before coming up with a mishmash of just about everything. The truth was, at that point in time, I didn’t know the answers. But the accomplished networker that I was could simply not leave them empty.
Then somehow, after two months of stumbling across questions and countries, I became ok with not knowing… And I became Kim. Not Kim the PR expert, Kim the coach, Kim the French Canadian or Kim the Aussie. Just Kim – and it was perfectly fine. This Kim was much more than any other Kims with a title. I wasn’t bound to one definition, one word, but a multitude of interrelated facets that intertwined with one another to make one and only. Letting go of my titles and admitting to the unknown was a scary feeling, yet so relieving.
At that time I also recalled something my mum had told me during an earlier visit to Quebec. She said I was very lucky as I could pick the aspects that appealed to me the most from the various countries and cultures I had lived in or visited, and make them mine. She had tactfully turned my ambiguity into an opportunity. As the late Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” So my identity was mine to create…
Can you relate to parts of this story? How important is it to you to have a well-defined title? How much room is there for spontaneous opportunities to arise?
What do you do on a daily basis to keep creating yourself? Physically? Spiritually? Professionally? Socially? What do you want to absorb from the outside world and make yours?