For a long time, in fact probably most of my life, I determined my self-worth and my whole sense of self in how I defined myself. As someone who spent many years training in dance, I always felt it was important to be able to say “I am a dancer” – it was almost like a badge of honour. Once I graduated from my dance training, dance jobs didn’t come my way, and I had to take a job working in an office. I found that in day to day life, people would often ask me what I do, and I would instantly cringe and attempt to avoid the conversation completely. Or I would answer ‘I’m a dancer…but there are no dance jobs so I’m just working in an office for now’, and try to laugh it off. I graduated nearly four years ago, and I still find myself having similar awkward reactions to this question.
The issue was that I thought I had to be a professional dancer to find validation in myself, and without that, I didn’t know what I was worth.
But as I grow up and find myself having more awareness of world issues and more opinions and more passions and more experiences, it has occurred to me that there are more important things to concern myself with than what my job title is. Yes, I want to spend my time and effort on projects that I’m passionate about and currently that might not be my job, but there is room to grow and there is more to me than the 40 hours I spend at my office job every week.
During my teacher training my yoga teacher told us that she doesn’t define herself as ‘a yoga teacher’, she instead describes herself as someone who ‘teaches yoga’ (along with many other incredible things) – this really resonates with me and the idea of not defining yourself by your job or by one thing that you do.
The more I think about it, the more icky I feel that I have put so much pressure on myself to be something so specific. I have goals and ambitions but it doesn’t feel healthy to try and fit myself into a ‘one size fits all’ box. With social media being such a prominent part of life it is common that we compare ourselves to other people, or even make judgements about who these people are – but it’s important to remember that the people we see on Instagram with the jaw dropping handstands are more than just that, they are people with entire lives that we don’t necessarily see.
I wonder if this is something other people experience? I’d be really interested to know! Going forward the only thing I want to define myself by is the kind of person I am, rather than what job I do. I’m going to work on a post with some tips of how I
overcame am working on overcoming this way of thinking – so we can all find the confidence in who we are that we deserve – without labels!
Featured image by Josh Hawkins Photography