All my life I’ve been groomed to believe that what I do matters. I went to the best schools to get the best education so that I could eventually become the best in whichever profession I chose. And let’s not forget, to also make really good money. I think it’s safe to say that this has been the case for most. Our parents desired for us to become something much better than they could have and be well off financially. Where as I know that the goal is to ensure each generation exceeds the prior, people often get lost in the process.
If we think about it, most of us are known by what we do or will become. I am Jamaican and it’s not uncommon to hear family members mention each other in conversation saying things like “Do you remember Mary’s daughter, Sandra?” And then someone responds saying, “You mean the doctor one or the lawyer one?” All you need to do is simply mention your career aspiration and that becomes your new name lol even before you have graduated. Nobody knows who “Sandra” is anymore. You now have to specify and say “Sandra, the lawyer”.
I understand the pride of seeing our children and loved ones achieve and excel. We have every right to celebrate and make it known. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, what we do becomes who we are. From Kindergarten to College or University, we went to school for one primary goal; to get an education so that we can get a job and make good money. We have been conditioned to think that what we become determines how valuable we are. This is also where we learn to place different jobs and careers into social categories. We’ve been taught that if we don’t do well in school we’ll end up driving garbage trucks, sweeping streets, being janitors, cashiers, plumbers etc. But if we do well in school we can become lawyers, doctors, teachers, accountants, psychologists, pharmacists. Then we wonder why people in certain jobs are not respected or discriminated against… That’s a whole other discussion that I will not be having today. But do you get the point? We’ve become human “doings” when we are actually human beings. Simply being is not enough because it’s what we do that gives us value in society.
I say none of this to discount the importance of unlocking our full potentials to be the best that we can be. Be a doctor, be a lawyer and be the best ones you can be! I’m here for it! I applaud your success 👏🏾. However, the issues arise when these professions become our identities. Believe it or not, if we could no longer be what we are known for, in terms of our jobs and professions, most of us would have no idea who we are. Go ahead and ask anyone who they are and I can guarantee that at some point, if not right away, most will include what they do for a living without having to ask them specifically. Yes, your profession is admirable and I applaud you for all that you have achieved… But who are you really?
I can speak on this because I have been through it. What I’ve mentioned so far, I’ve experienced it first hand. It took me being forced to delay the completion on my degree in medicine unexpectedly 2 years ago, to this date exactly, to realize just how much my identity was wrapped up in this profession. To this day, I can’t be in the presence of any family, family friend or relatives without being greeted with “Hey Doc!”. Yes, it was cute at first and filled me with a sense of pride, but when the completion of my degree was delayed, I literally hit rock bottom. I had no idea what to do and I had no idea who I really was. I thought I knew but I really didn’t. I will not get into details about that time period here (because that’s a whole book… literally… hint hint 😉) but I can say that today I know who I am more than I did 2 years ago.
What I can share with you today, is how what I thought was my worst nightmare, at the time, became my “saving grace”. Had I completed school on schedule, I would have become a doctor who had no idea who I really was or the extent of power I possessed, simply by being ME. I wouldn’t have met the friends and sisters I now have, I wouldn’t have gotten the therapy I needed, I wouldn’t have discovered my mentors. I would have been buried in work and thrown into a pandemic without a strong foundation to stand firm in my faith, knowing who I really am. So many people have lost their lives not just physically but also mentally and emotionally because there was nothing more to hold on to outside of what they do professionally. That could have been me, but by the grace of God, He spared me that additional trauma.
You know the saying “every delay has a purpose”, it’s a “blessing in disguise”? I know that it is so cliché. You might have even rolled your eyes while reading it lol. But I can tell you from personal experience, several in fact, that it is actually true. In the beginning, it doesn’t look or feel that way, but if you trust the process, one day you will see that the disappointment and chaos all makes sense. Oh the stories I could share! But if you stick around with me on this journey, you will have an opportunity to read all about my experience one day.
It’s important to know who you are. If everything was stripped away, the titles, recognition, fame, your job, being a mother, wife, husband, daughter, son, sister, brother. If all of it was taken away and you were only left with you, who would you say you are? The sad reality is that many do not know. This is a very dangerous way to live because this means that you haven’t spent the time to invest in YOU as a person. You possess qualities and gifts woven into your DNA by your Creator. Here’s the shocking part, those qualities were not just meant to be used in your ministry or careers to help others, but they are also there to serve YOU. Think about it… You need exactly what you give to everyone else and you already have it within you.
So, I will end by saying this. BE GREAT! Be all the things! Be an amazing doctor, lawyer, teacher. I support all the greatness and I love to see it! But underneath all that, make sure you get to know YOU, the person. If everything around you and all that you are disappears, your foundation should be so firm and your confidence in who you are so great, that you cannot be shaken. This doesn’t excuse disappointment or pain, it will come, but how you cope and your recovery will be much easier because you will have the confidence that it is not the end of the world. You can bounce back stronger from any disappointment or set back if you know who and whose you are.
Love & Blessings,
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