This is a philosophical post, intended to spark thinking and examining.
Our identity(ies) can be so funny.
Many moons ago, at work, we got a new hire. He was young, thin, athletic, and could eat.
Boy could he eat. Eat eat eat, and never gain an ounce.
Just like me. I could also eat a tonne and it wouldn’t make a dent in my weight. And I did eat a tonne. So much good food.
Over the years I grew to love the comments I would get from people about that ability. I was Mr Hollow Leg, the black hole, a mystery and a marvel.
I even liked using it as a way of annoying people. “The difference,” I told my boss one day as we were tucking into some desert, “is that I can eat this, and it won’t make a difference.”
Fortunately, he did not fire me on the spot.
Within a month of the new hire being in the company, the comments began. Coworkers marveled at his eating ability, teased and praised him for it and began making glowing comments about it.
He became “the person at work who can eat a lot.”
I did not like that.
My inner voice was screaming, “Hey, waitaminute here! I’m that guy! I’m the eating one who can eat and it doesn’t matter! I have to workout hard to gain weight!”
It frustrated me for a couple of months. I was completely annoyed.
Until I got it.
I had made “Able to Eat a Lot and Not Gain Weight Guy” a part of my identity.
In that moment that the realization came, I laughed. Not loudly, for that would have appeared odd, but I laughed in the realization of the sillyness of it all.
How indignant I had been! How rejected I had felt! How tied up I had become in it!
All over something as trivial as being recognized, and even pedestaled, for how much I ate.
I let it go at once. I gave up having that as being part of my identity. The frustration and upset left immediately.
It was a great lesson for me, a great example of just what we – unwittingly! – can make part of our identity, and the degree to which we can and will be taken out, upset, or even fight to keep that identity alive.
With that lesson I also realized that we humans are so funny… that we can and do that kind of thing!
And it’s totally a part of who we are, and it isn’t bad, or wrong, or stupid. It’s just something we can do.
It’s also something we can give up.
By the way, if you want to meet up with me, let’s go eat. I can still eat quite a bit! It’s delicious.