© By Shiloh Moore
Published on the ‘Authenticity Today’ Website:
Have you ever asked yourself the question “Who Am I?” When somebody asks you to describe yourself, do you identify yourself with your job, your appearance, relationships, your hobbies and interests, your status etc? Have you ever wondered who you’d be without these external trappings?
Being forced to live with a chronic illness makes one drastically re-evaluate their self-image and search for identity and self worth.
Through illness my job, appearance, relationships, hobbies and interests were all taken from me. I asked myself “Who am I?” when I could no longer be who I always previously thought I was. Who or what was left in this shell of a body?
Others may be brought to question their identity through different experiences. Many adults go through a midlife crisis and ask themselves who they are now while struggling with how their life situation has turned out. You don’t have to have a chronic illness to wonder who you are and where your value lies.
For a long time I felt stumped by this questioning. It seemed an unanswerable question and I was uncomfortable with that. In time, after much looking within, I became comfortable with simply being. Simply being with myself, with no pressure to do something or become someone, rather being calm and at peace in the moment exactly as I found myself: to be as I am. I decided my true self is beyond these trappings and no matter how I am forced to live, I have worth.
I liked the phrase “I am a human being, not a human doing.”
My sense of identity changed from being centred on what I could or could not do, to being centred on who I was on a deeper level, the being inside who is there in every situation, who is beyond the situation. I describe this as my inner being, my true self, my authentic self.
So, if you are unsatisfied with your life situation, be it your job, your relationships, your mental health, or if you’re going through a life change or crisis, know that these contribute only to your life situation, not to your life itself. Your true identity is beyond these things. No matter the situations that contribute to how you are forced to live, know deep down you have life itself, and you always have worth.
For the chronically ill, know you are beyond your lost abilities, your lost identity, lost dreams, lost passions, preferred appearance, usual personality and interests. The essential you is beyond all these things and is still there despite all the loss of what you previously identified yourself as being. No matter how your body limits you and how you are forced to live, you are a valuable being and you have true worth.