Who am I?
This is a question we often find ourselves asking in relation to world events, personal beliefs, fundamental changes in our lives, or a shift in our perceptions. It’s a fairly well-known theory that there are several events that can take place in our lives that influence us in ways that create stress and anxiety, and make us question our goals, passion, and dedication.
The top ten most stress and anxiety causing events can be:
- Death of a spouse, family member, or close friend
- Divorce or Separation
- Jail term or incarceration
- Personal injury or illness
- Fired from work, job loss
- Marital reconciliation
- Sudden change in financial/economic status
Some of the items can combine to create what we might perceive to be a “living hell.” How we deal with these events can be quite telling as to our character.
It’s no secret amongst my friends that I have had a hard time of it over the past 17 months. Laid off in April of 2010, with a lengthy period of unemployment during which I forfeited a modest home I’d purchased but then defaulted on. I managed to keep the car, but found myself living in a very economically depressed neighborhood, as that’s all I could afford. I did not qualify for unemployment insurance, and so relied on the kindness of friends to help get me through. As I don’t have any family to speak of, it was a sobering period for me, and made me reevaluate not only my values, but perform a complete mental diagnostic of my life. Tied up in that is an exploration of my self-identity.
I’ve written fairly frequently on the biological changes that take place within each of us, with a pretty complete change of personal chemistry occurring about every seven years
. Sometimes, though, in order to notice these changes, it takes an event such as one of those mentioned above to really make us sit up and take notice. The biggest piece, I feel, is determining what a life means. Not necessarily the age-old existential question of “Why am I here?” but rather one that gets deeper to the root of our existence: Who Am I?
As this is most certainly an ongoing process, I don’t have easy answers, nor have I uncovered any revelations into my own identity, to whom I have become in these 50 years on the planet. Nor is it a pleasant exploration. Sometimes, examining oneself under a microscope can become a disturbing journey into unknown territory, as this particular introspective trip has proven. I have, however, rediscovered some values that I’d long ago held for my life that seem to have been discarded somewhere along the way, and I heartily re-embraced them so that I can wrap them around myself like a forgotten favorite sweater. And into the winter we head.