when your life doesn’t fit in the box

there’s a dissonance when who you are or what you do doesn’t fit into the box

You might encounter this when you fill out an application or a survey and you get to the demographics question and you’re some of this and some of that and checking other seems, well so other.

You might encounter this when someone asks ‘what you do?‘ and you’re between jobs.

You might encounter this when people ask you ‘what you do?’ and what you do for a living doesn’t define who you are as a person.

You might encounter at your annual review when you look at last year’s goals and you realize you’re job has morphed and none of those matter any more.

You might encounter this when you find yourself riled up about something happening to someone else. It might just be a situation you see in the news or someone you know personally, but you find yourself so angry at the injustice that allows that to happen.

And in all of these, you find yourself wondering, “Why do I feel so (angry, uncomfortable, ashamed)?”

We have such strong feelings during these experiences because the dissonance is really a dissonance of identify. Who am I? Where do I fit in? What is my purpose?

Answering these questions requires being honestly real with ourselves and with others and, importantly, letting others be honestly real with us. Questions about identity typically stimulate some serious soul searching. Soul searching around identity may range from a spiritual awakening to a mid-life cricks! It is often not an easy process and may require the support of wise friends, spiritual advisors, counselors, coaches, or mentors.

boxes are for catching catsBut there are some practical questions we can ask to help ourselves and others not feel boxed in.

  • When meeting someone new, ask questions that allow them to speak about their life outside of a job. “When you’re not here (party, soccer game, church, class, work), what do you enjoy doing with your time?”
  • When introduced to someone, ask the introducer and introducee how they know each other.
  • When asked ‘what do you do’ – answer with, “I make a living by …., but what really brings purpose to my life is ….. What about you?”

We bring out whole selves, not just the part in the box, to whatever we do. Trying to live life within artificial lines doesn’t work. Permission granted to color outside of the box!

maryjoburkhard.com # culturethriving

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