When someone asks me ‘Who is James Allard?’, what should I say? The most common response to this for many might be ‘I am a Devon born male from the UK. 43 years old, one failed marriage, one volatile rebound relationship shortly after and now happily married. Father of seven children. Worked in electrical, mechanical and software engineering within the manufacturing industry for two decades, early bitcoin adopter and crypto enthusiast.’
Descriptive, yes, is it me? errrm, no. The above is simply a statement on past facts and events about my circumstances and interests, but in no way does it tell you anything about me. It also doesn’t tell me anything about myself.
Now, another answer that maybe given is, ‘I am a socially anxious 43-year-old white heterosexual male’. Again, true, but has no relationship to ‘who I am’.
When we give ourselves labels we create boundaries around our reality. If you consider yourself, ‘a nervous person’, you will most likely always remain ‘a nervous person’.
The society we live in is full of labels to hand out to anyone that’s willing to accept them and thus give them power. Children are given labels by their parents, teachers and peers. They are told they are lazy, a bit slow, clumsy, quiet, hyperactive, ADHD, dyslexic, shy, ugly, fat. We live in a world desperate to label everyone else as something, often with good intentions, but unfortunately for the most part, this label, this supplied identity that you never asked for, does little more than perpetuate the reasons behind why such a label was offered to you.
We are all unique and powerful miracles of life with limitless potential, all of us. Not a single one of us can be accurately categorized, for the self has infinite possibilities.
We’ve seen this problem of the identity trap growing even more so in recent years with the rise of ‘wokeness’. Applauding those that take on the labels of being a ‘transgender female or a ‘black american’, but the label is a deception, with it comes a disconnect from ones inherent uniqueness. Suddenly, you are not infinite power, you are not the superhero you can be and should be, but simply a black American, a statistic no more. Skin colour does not define you, nor does gender or sexual orientation.
These labels hinder us, they give us a limited expectation of what we are capable of.
The truth is, we can be whatever we want to be, anytime we want. Many feel as though they must be who they’ve always been in order to be honest with themselves and everyone else. But this is an unproductive thought pattern. Unless we can feel comfortable to change ourselves at any moment, we cannot be the very best we can be for any and every given situation. Life is full of multiple roles, and each of these requires a different set of skills and emotional states in order to be the very best you can be.
We must throw away these notions of ‘I am this’ and ‘I am that’, and begin to think of what we are in terms of infinite possibility. So, let me rephrase my answer to the initial question in the opening of this article.
‘Who is James Allard?’
‘I am determined and powerful, my capabilities are forever evolving and infinite. I strive to wake a better and wiser person tomorrow, than I was today.’
Don’t get trapped by an identity. These labels will eat away at you until you are little more than the label. Labels demand conformity in the individual, conformity to the label itself.
‘I am an anxious person, therefore I am’. – The Identity Trap