I wrote a post on Instagram about Knots. So many women related to it, I thought I would write about it here too. I am usually so impatient when I try to unravel one that I end up making it tighter and harder to separate out the strands. The knot I am fingering and trying to be patient about getting undone is trying to sort out the difference between Purpose, Identity, and Work. I’m having trouble distinguishing between them. I have always functioned like work contained them all. My work has always defined my identity. When asked, what I do, the answer has always been, “I’m a social worker, I’m a professor.” Not, I do social work or teach. Interestingly when people ask me what I do now I say, I write. I have not yet felt worthy of the identity or maybe it’s because when I do it for all of you it brings me pleasure.
I don’t feel like working in the way I used to, always thinking about being productive and often feeling stressed out. I want to be challenged but I don’t want it to be hard. I don’t like the fact I have writing deadlines that must be met, it feels like pressure. These are such privileged concerns as there are so many women our age who must work, whether it gives them purpose, a sense of identity, or pleasure; it’s about food on the table and paying the rent. I have such enormous freedom at this time of life when it comes to working and I am not used to having it, I have always HAD to work, food on the table, and that sort of thing. Maybe that’s the issue I don’t know how to handle this freedom, it is something new.
While work has provided me with an identity, did it also provide me with a purpose? Maybe some of it has. When I began to sell things on Instagram, it became pretty clear that is not a purpose, and probably the reason I stopped. Somehow that leads me to believe purpose is the key. Maybe it’s enough to just keep writing and give people the words they need to say how they feel or write something that prompts a good think.
So I turn to my tribe of wise women and ask, Do you distinguish between purpose, work, and identity? If so, how? How have these shifted for you throughout your life? How are you thinking about them now? If I write about all this what is it most important to say?