Identity Loss


These past two months, I’ve come to dread one specific (and too frequently asked) question:

“So, what do you do?”

……..”um. Well, I currently…”

and I drift off into a rambling fit trying to convince both myself and the person that I’m talking to that I am doing something cool and legitimate with my life.

When I was guiding, I felt no problem whatsoever in answering this question. I felt really attached to my identity as a wilderness therapy guide, and I felt really connected to the work I was doing. Then, recently, I stopped. That title of my identity went away. It vanished, and I have been left trying to re-piece together how I describe my identity.

I spent the past two months in limbo. Caught between the space of where I know I want to go, and the steps I have to take to get there. Sometimes, the steps are difficult. Sometimes those steps aren’t so fun.  More often than not, those steps are so incredibly scary I try desperately to avoid taking them. Yet, unfortunately, they must be taken; especially those scary ones.

Loosing my ability to attach my identity to my job has left me to reflect on how I want to actually define myself. I want to focus on both what lights up my soul, and my creativity, and my joy, but also what specific steps can propel me forward to my future goals and aspirations.

It’s the dichotomy between both enjoying and relishing the moment, while also getting clear on my purpose and how to accomplish the work I feel I am meant to do in this world.

The exact plot-line is still unclear, but all I can do is keep tuning in to get a clearer picture of what I want my life to look and feel like. Part of that is detaching, letting myself not define my worth by current circumstances and outside forces, but instead diving deeper into who I am and who I want to be. It’s focusing more on what I want to feel like as opposed to putting my worth in something external.

It all comes down to loving yourself and recognizing your worth without the need for the world to validate you. I know, I know it’s an overused statement: love yourself more. But, stick with me here. When you stop relying on external validation, how much more satisfying would life feel? If you could just do the things that make you happy and bring you joy, without needing other people to verify that those things are valid and important and legitimate, how great would that feel? How much more fun would it be to create or play music or draw even if you’re “no good at it”?  Just the thought makes me feel so much relief.  It allows me to shift my perspective in asking myself what do I want to be doing just because I enjoy it? No external product or creation, just merely the experience of doing things you that make you happy.

That’s where I’m going right now. Or, at least where I’m trying to go.

To those places of detachment and inspiration and pure joy.

Who thought joy could be such a scary process?

I’d love to hear from you all! Do you like answering the questions “What do you do?” And, what are you doing right now for the pure enjoyment of doing it?

With love,



  1. I’ve been on the receiving end of “Do you work?” for years. As a stay at home mother for 30 years I always felt I had to give long winded answers justifying my choice not to work. About 5 years ago or so I started answering that question with a simple and direct “no.”…yeah, that led to lots of squirming, but not from me. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so eloquently written. I always get wrapped up in the pressure to be (or appear) “successful”, but in major life transitions that need only manages to make me feel like I’m a failure. I love what you’ve said about trying to stop the need to seek external validation, I know doing this will help me tremendously in my life. Thank you so much, Ashley!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s