By Andrea Powles-Gullick, Courage Coach & Motivational Speaker
We’ve all heard of the innocuous mid-life crisis, the period in someone’s life where they invariably lose their sh*t. It would appear that the infinite timeline that we once believe exists, becomes increasingly more finite. It can feel like a race against the clock, a hopeful ambition to rewind time, return to the youthful days, have all the things that were possibly unavailable in our earlier life. Yet, in my opinion, people can become lost with who they are and what they want, at any age.
In all honesty, I believe I was 19 when I hit the first cross-road in my own life. It certainly felt like a mid-life crisis, a period of time where I was overcome with time running out. Now at 41, with a much deeper and worldly perspective, I recognise that what many people experience, at varying times throughout their life, is actually an IDENTITY CRISIS.
Unfortunately, for the most part, terrible circumstances can force one into
realising they no longer know who they are. As the mechanisms and props are removed, as the distractions and diversions are erased, the undeniable truth can be a startling reality. If you removed every title, every role you play, every external classification, would you know who you are, just as YOU?
In 2006, after losing my husband in a car accident while still recovering from a journey of cancer with our newborn son 3 years prior, I literally had to step through the flames of an identity crisis. One cannot continue as they were when faced with trauma. When someone or something so significant is removed from your life, when the pain feels insurmountable, you cannot remain the same.
After years of contemplation and managing my grief, internally I knew I was shedding the layers of who I was when my husband was alive. I could feel there was a very different version of myself waiting to emerge but the pain of letting go of the girl I was, the fear of how and who would welcome the new version was nauseating. I didn’t yet know who I was but I absolutely knew who I was not and it was frightening.
The changes we go through in life such as marriage, parenthood, career, divorce, death, empty-nesters or retirement, can call upon us to accept a new version of ourselves. We do not remain the same, we cannot remain the same and it is inevitable that layers will need to be shed. Underneath each of these layers is the undeniable truth, our TRUE self, the most magical and powerful aspect of who we are is, in fact, separate from the external conditions we feel complete us.
Regardless of what does or doesn’t appear in our life, what comes and goes, the true essence of who we are remains. There is a rock-solid, beautiful being under each and every layer or title or belief. While everything else may crumble around us, it is paving the way for our true selves to be revealed.
Change can be forced upon us in ways that feel unimaginable, yet the gift from all of this is the opportunity to see through a different lens. The ability to accept ourselves and live life differently than that of our past. As we venture into this new territory and re-define who we are, things can feel very unnerving. It feels as though we are risking a lot in the quest of finding ourselves. The fear of losing the safety of who we were, where we fitted and the predictability of life.
Yet, what can present itself on the other side, is more amazing than many can imagine.
The FREEDOM to live life on OUR terms.