Activity does not produce identity.
Identity produces activity.
From an early age we were asked the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” There existed within this curious conversation starter an implication repeated to us throughout our formidable years. That implication was that we were becoming but never really ever being. It is no wonder then that, even after reaching adulthood, there would remain within us such a strong psychological need to become rather than to simply be. A lingering discontent with ourselves developed that could not be satisfied. No matter the career accomplishment, there remained a feeling that we were never quite measuring up.
We are not human-doings we are human-beings.
Our language clearly expresses the way in which we attach our identity to what we do. When someone asks us, “What do you do?” We answer, “I am… a fireman, a nurse, a lawyer, a doctor, etc. Of course, this is not what we are but rather what we do. This feeling of being what we do is so deeply ingrained in our minds that, when we lose our job or can no longer perform our job as well as expected, we feel that our identity is lost. Because of the strong correlation between what we do and what we are, our self-worth, our self-image, how we see ourselves is diminished.
Finding our true identity is finding what we have always been.
When we are nervous about performing at our job someone might try to encourage us by saying, “Just be yourself.” This is good advice. When our deeper sense of identity comes from being rather than the psychological need to become, it is then that we will be free from the kind of self that depends upon a particular outcome. Everything in life we pursue in order to increase our own self-perceived value only serves to hide our own true value from us. We then live from a position of inadequacy rather than from a position of authenticity.