Knowing the difference between a longing or yearning, roles and identity will make a huge impact on how you see yourself.
You might not want to be a carpenter but might have a longing to do one piece of furniture perfectly. That perfect cuboid that we did in the mechanical engineering lab is a great way to fulfil the longing. It is just a ✅ on your adult ego. It feels awesome when the action is done.
I had a list of silly longings in many areas of my life. I wanted to try gardening, portrait sketching, photography, visual design and more. I didn't want to become a gardener or a portrait artist or a photographer or visual designer but I just want to explore all the items. The desire was so strong that I spent enormous amount of time and energy in these areas. It took me a long time to get clarity on how to handle these longings vs roles vs identities. This piece is an attempt to share the findings with you.
The word Identity crisis (as coined by Erik Erikson) is strong and it may beat up your self image. Use these terms cautiously as it has a deep impact on how your mind perceives you. Language matters.
When it comes to identity, two major questions to answer are who am I? and who can I be?.
When it comes to longing, two major questions to answer are what can I do to quench this desire? and how can I help myself?
The questions are completely different.
Identity is about the being and longing is about doing.
The more you do something, it may become a part of your being. The more you become something, you may do more of the becoming (activities). It is a thin line. It is very subtle. If you are not careful, you may confuse being and doing. A big part of self image issues spring from this.
A simple question to ask to clarify the being is: Will I enjoy doing <this> for next 1BS (30+ years) of my life?
If the answer is YES, your being wants to identify with <this>. Typically it is 1 or 2 items maximum. More than that means you are confused.
If the answer is NO, it may just be a longing. With a little time dedicated in doing (a few projects), this desire should be checked-off. You will feel the happiness inside you when these activities are done.
If the answer is MAY BE, I suggest you take up a moratorium. A period to find yourself. Make no decisions during the period. If you are having questions on what career to take up, what to become in life, what to dedicate my life for? Just use this period (generally six months to one year), do several projects in the area.
Action is the best antidote to anxiety
With action, it is easier to answer many questions.Even if the answer is NO, you know for a fact that you don't want to spend the rest of your life in that direction. In my opinion, a NO is more valuable than a yes. A moratorium is extremely helpful to find out the NOs of your life than the YESs.
Here is a simple example for longing. My being is a creative problem solver and my longing is to explore various types of expression like writing, sketching, visuals, voice, video and more. This doesn't mean I want to be a graphic designer or youtuber or a writer or a communication specialist. The clarity helped me deeply to know the difference. I hope you find yours too.
🥂 to action!