I know that in times of profound change, we want to hang on to those things that are at the core of our identify – of who we really are. One of our western cultural givens is that males, in particular, are identified but what they do for pay. The default identity of females is for another blog, due to word limits.
Those of you who are learning about me, Blog by Blog, know that I think “givens” are almost always considered to be permanent by definition. But they should at least receive critical thought and perhaps changed.
Crisis moments of identity can occur at milestones of abrupt change such as; sudden onset of illness, retirement, being fired, or being laid off work because of redundancy.
As I approached retirement, I understood that I had described myself for decades as a social worker. Under provincial laws, I would not be able to continue to use the label I had used for years.
As I reflected on the upcoming change, I realized that who I really was, my identity was of a person who cared for and about others. I expressed that identity mostly through my professional work as a social worker.
I was relieved to understand that my identity was not changing through my end of paid work, but rather the expressions of my identity had more options. What a gift.
My first volunteer opportunity, after paid employment, was because I followed up on a note in the local St. Albert Gazette to empty garbage cans at a local summer event.
This blog writing is a direct result of me being open to new and unforeseen ways of helping others. I never saw this opportunity coming my way. It is a consistent way to strengthen my identity.
I acknowledge that it is a head game, and those games are never easy but you do control the outcome to a large extent.
There are older adults and seniors who have had sudden changes that challenge their identity. “Who am I now?” becomes difficult to answer. Please think again.
If you were in the oil and gas sector and now have no work with a much-reduced likelihood of returning to that employment, ask yourself not what you did but why you did it. If it was for the money, then think about what that money was being used for. Perhaps the primary purpose was to provide for a good life for your family. Then your identity can be captured in terms of being a provider, responsible husband, caring father. You can still be those identities some other way. There are financial programs to help pay the bills. You’ll have more time to be a husband and father in different ways, without leaving home. Give it a try. Remember, it is a head game, and you don’t have to buy it to play.
It can work for any sudden change in identity. It just isn’t easy.
My thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.