Gen X.

Not Billy Idol’s former band.

My birth cohort. I’m sandwiched in between the Boomers and the Millenials.

Identity crisis? Moi? 

The society that I grew up in assumed that I should identity was something to be inherited. My parents believed that. An identity of a linear, conformist life. You know the deal – conformist behaviour, conformist education, pass your conformist exams, get a conformist job with prospects, get promoted, get married, get promoted, have kids, get promoted, retire. 

All very….conformist and nuclearfamilyesque.

Something better change

But somewhere along that well trodden path, something changed. And then something else changed.

We craft our identity more than we used to because we’re able to.

But crafting an identity and doing something about it so it’s not just another exercise in making a list are different ball games.

I always knew I had a split identity – the “work” me and the “real” me.

Is this uncommon? I don’t think it is.

But, for me, the friction between the two gnawed away at me. I knew that I needed to go back to find my own identity and, to do that, I had to understand myself.

Blimey. There were a lot of gaps in that understanding. There still are.

But this curiosity has helped me realise that my unique self is still evolving. 

And what’s important is that I now feel in control to allow it to evolve.  And I’m ok with that.

Like the Buddhist philosophy of an ever-changing self.

I know it won’t always be plain sailing or that my evolution will be pain free. But I’m hopeful that all of this will put me in a good place to handle the future. 

Looking into the past to understand myself has made me think about “what could my life have looked like if…?”

….I’d been encouraged to think differently

….I’d not felt like the music I liked was a load of “bang and thump” (although to be fair, there was quite a lot of banging going on in early Swans or Einsturzende Neubauten that probably gave Nurofen its market opportunity)

….I’d been encouraged to play an instrument and the music I liked

….I’d not felt the need to toe the line with the getting a job with prospects thing

…and more

As I wrote these points, I realise that this sounds like me blaming my parents, perhaps teachers, perhaps society. In a way, I am. As an only child, I always felt the spotlight on me. High expectations and all that. Nobody else to take the heat.

I didn’t consciously set out with a plan for all of this. That identity friction started and it just GREW.

But the really cool thing is that thinking about my past life is helping me think about what my future life could look like….

The future of work is different. The multi-stage life is here. What we need from our relationships is different. It’s natural that we evolve our identity.

What if?

I never mastered Excel’s “WHAT IF” scenarios.

But I digress.

I’m getting pretty good at the WHAT IF part of experimenting. Here’s what I’ve been What If’fing the hell out of….

WHAT IF….I played a cello again? On my terms.

WHAT IF….I got involved in an arts lab?

WHAT IF….I started writing?

WHAT IF….I started playing the drums?

WHAT IF….I started up a music project?

WHAT IF….I started a business that I could run from anywhere in the world?

Starting to understand my identity has helped me to imagine scenarios with an experimental mindset and not in an emo, finger-sliding-down-the-rain-covered window way.

But experiment with them in a way that feels real.

And then decide if they are batshit…..or not.