As a child you dream about who you will be when you grow up. I was often a princess, but not one of those locked in a tower. Instead I was fighting right alongside Robin Hood, knights from King Arthur’s table, or maybe space pirates. There would magic in that distant future; magic that I just had to find the right doorway or amulet to activate.
As a youth, it’s about creating a vision for the future. By middle school and high school, the idea of being grown up has a few more restrictions but still so much potential. I was going to be a marine mammalogist, or a lawyer, or a doctor (after I fainted at a needle, that one was off the list), or a singer on broadway. No more princess plans. Unless one of those European princes was looking.
As a young adult, you come out of school and are setting goals for who you will be. Maybe it’s after high school, or perhaps college or graduate degrees. You have been focused into one area and given explicit checklists of how to get onto the professional ladder. Although the working world will start with an hourly-wage job where the boss never learns your name, with enough time, persistence, creativity, and some luck, you will get the salary, benefits, window, and title of somebody important.
At some point in adulthood, a new stage can happen. This is when you shift from objective ideas on who you want to be, can be, are supposed to be to just having space to be.
As an adult, you seek what I’m calling hopeful space. Space where you have worked hard at something worth sacrifice, and space where you can be wrong without being crushed. Where you can use that salary, those benefits, and that title to do something. And look out that window to imagine what might be next.
Titles are part of life. We all have professional, relational, and interpersonal labels. The words we use to answer “What do you do?” and “Who are you with?”. And how someone else will answer “What is she like?” The words that can fit into 140 characters on Twitter or the five lines of a dating profile page are part of who you are (if you are honest about them). But they are ONLY PART. They are the first mile of the 26.2 miles in a marathon. Just barely the start of your identify.
Who were you? Who are you? Who will you be?
These questions cannot be answered in a Tweet or outlined on a resume. They are a much bigger part of the journey.
No matter what, dear reader, I hope you are loved. No matter who you were, are, or will be. As a human being, you should be loved.