“You may not know this yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself, endlessly. That’s your beauty”
– Anne Lamott
I’m tall, I’m fat, I’m British, I’m quiet, I’m opinionated, I’m a teacher, I’m not good at sport, I’m not very smart. These are the kind of statements that we use to define who we are. That frame our sense of identity.
It’s important to have a sense of identity and feel comfortable with who you are. No one likes to wander through life uncertain of themselves and their path. But it’s also important to be open to new things. To not let statements like these limit you in what you do with your life.
I have a friend who is very intelligent and accomplished. At elementary school, around age 10-12, her class did one of those aptitude tests. One of those things which asks you a bunch of seemingly random questions and then spits out recommendations on which areas of study you have a natural predisposition towards. My friend was told that she does not have an aptitude for languages – she will never be very good at learning them so she shouldn’t bother trying.
This silly test has stayed with her well into adulthood. She didn’t study any languages through the rest of her schooling and slowly ‘I’m not good at learning other languages’ became a part of her identity. Interestingly, on a recent group trip to Japan, she was picking up phrases and words left, right and center and learning more of the language than most of the rest of us. She’s coming around to the idea that aptitude tests are a bunch of baloney.
Now, of course, there are indisputable things about each of us that can’t be changed. If you were born in the UK, you’re British – nothing to be done about that. If you’re 6 ft tall and a lady, you’re a tall woman – no magic potion for height. If you work at a school imparting knowledge unto the youth of today, you’re probably a teacher – it is what it is. These things are reality, and may be part of who you are, but they don’t have to define who you are, and they certainly don’t have to limit you.
You might be British, but that doesn’t mean you can’t move to Italy, Singapore or Australia and live there instead. You might be a tall woman, but that shouldn’t stop you from wearing heels if that’s what you want to do. You might be a teacher, but if the sound of screaming children and the smell of craft glue is driving you nuts who says that you can’t change careers?
We have very little control over what goes on in the world around us, but we have absolute control over our own actions and decisions. If there is something you don’t like about your life, change it. If there is something that you don’t like about who you are, change it! Yes, change can be confronting and scary, but it can also be exciting and invigorating.
You have the power to reinvent yourself whenever you want to. Why not embrace it?