who, not what to become

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💭thought bubble💭

If you were to strip away all of your formal education, your career accomplishments, your awards, your reputation, your financial status, your loved ones, and left alone in another country with a bag of simple clothes and a little money, who do you think you would be?

What kind of decisions would you still make? How would you deal with the uncertainty? What inner framework would you base your life decisions on? Would you still find yourself grounded within yourself?

I find this to be a useful mental exercise. Firstly, it gives you an idea of how your relationship with yourself is, if it even exists at all. Secondly, it helps you figure out if you have been basing most of your identity on external factors, which are susceptible to sudden and drastic changes, or if you feel solid enough internally to withstand external changes.

Based on my observation, it seems that sometimes people end up overidentifying with a career path, making it their main identity.

If for example, someone was pursuing a career in engineering and they really wanted to be able to see themselves as an engineer, making sure to spend years and years moulding majority of their life choices to reach their goal, then they could find themselves feeling very lost and uncertain about their identity after getting off of that track.

I believe this pattern can also be seen in some relationships. When a person who spends their whole heart loving and investing in someone dear to them suddenly loses their beloved, it can make them feel very lost. This feeling would be stronger if they couldn’t figure out how to be themselves without the other person.

So, what if you did lose your career that worked years on? What if someone you really loved and cared for suddenly turned their back on you? So what if people started to see you differently, ruining your old reputation? Could you still be yourself without these things? Could you be without totally losing yourself? Who would you really be without all of these things?

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I believe that in the death of these external idols we’ve made for ourselves, we finally get a chance to meet ourselves. This is a chance for us to figure out and develop what kind of character we want to have regardless. If we were to be suddenly dropped in another country far away from the people we are usually with, would we still operate from a place of kindness? How about from a place of personal growth? Generosity? Etc etc.

If all these external things in our lives can change so much, then below all these layers, who are we still

Possible solutions 🔍

Questions. I believe that to solve this problem, we should spend some time alone with ourselves and ask ourselves these questions:

What matters to me? What kind of attributes do I want to keep as a part of my character? What are some things that I would never want to do? What are some principles and values that I want to do my best to uphold? And why so?

Do these principles come from my heart, my upbringing, my reasoning, my education, or my religion? On my deathbed, what would I be satisfied with having contributed to the world? Which decisions do I regret and why? And which decisions am I proud of and want to continue with?

If we know the answers to these questions and slowly develop a stable relationship with ourselves that isn’t dependent on too many external variables, I believe that it will become easier to withstand major life changes without losing yourself completely.


Faith. Another thing that people seem to rely a lot in the face of uncertainty is faith. If there are certain beliefs you know to be true, then it can be easier to endure any hardships or changes life throws at you.

Instead of basing one’s identity on things like careers or relationships, one can base their identity on a concept bigger than themselves, such as being a creation of God having a certain life purpose, or praying to a Higher Being, which can anchor them and prevent them for getting lost in the changing winds of life.


Inner Compass. Whether you make a switch from being a banker to becoming a scientist, from being single to not and vice versa, from disconnecting with a close loved one, or experiencing any other major life changes, I believe that having developed an inner compass will provide some kind of framework for how to be and what decisions to make or avoid, thereby softing your landing in the new location life throws you in.

Life is full of changes, and having a home within yourself to keep yourself grounded seems to be one way of dealing with them.


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