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Identity Crisis

February 14, 2016

The internet is full of funny stuff, things that can cause one to laugh till your ribs hurt like someone gave you a kick. With the emergence of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc., sharing of such stuff has become very easy especially now that almost every other person has a smartphone and internet bundles to compliment the phone. Besides, almost every office and up-market restaurant you go to now has free Wi-Fi. Speaking of Wi-Fi in restaurants, it is sad to realize that people meet up for lunch/dinner/breakfast or whatever drink, only to spend 75% of their time on their phones, instead of taking time to bond and talk to the person they came to dine with. What has become of us humans? Why meet up at the restaurant then? You could have stayed at home or in traffic and continued to chat each other on social media instead!

No wonder there’s a restaurant in the USA that has a sign right outside the door that has this message: “No Wi-Fi in this hotel. Talk to each other and pretend it is 1995. While at it, pretend it is 1993 and go to the payphone at the back and call your MOM! She hasn’t heard your voice in a while”. In other words, the hotel is encouraging people to talk to each other instead of focusing on their gadgets. Yeah, I’m not sure they knew this would happen when they invented gadgets and free Wi-Fi. Anyway, I digress…

So as I was saying the gadget invasion has its plus points and negative points as well. The plus point I want to talk about in this case is the easy dissemination of information. People nowadays create groups on WhatsApp and with the recent increase of the maximum number of participants in a group from 100 to 250, it can only mean one thing; more forwards and sometimes annoying messages to be sent by 250 members. Can you imagine if all the 250 members each sent a forwarded picture or video clip? Goodness! If your phone has just 1GB internal memory it would crash right there. Speaking of which, is there a way someone can exit a group without WhatsApp informing everyone in the group that you’ve left? I’m asking for a friend… blush

Anyway, back to my story, someone posted a photo of a vehicle that left me somewhat confused. From the way the vehicle looked, you couldn’t quite tell whether it was a truck, or a 4 x 4 or even a Sedan modified to look like a double cabin vehicle. Everything about the car was just wrong. You see, it had those massive wheels you find on 4 x 4s or small tractors, then it had a modified behind that had the boot converted into a pickup, then there was the front section that was divided into the drivers section and a section behind the driver where 3 other passengers can seat. The front part looked like a sedan. I mean, that car was just confusing. I couldn’t help but wonder what its log book reads; sedan, pick-up, track, or what? If vehicles do suffer from identity crisis, I think this one was suffering a massive attack. I wouldn’t be surprised if even the internal parts of the vehicle were just as messed up.

Speaking of identify crisis, is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit? I’ve heard many people say that it is a fruit yet Brian O’Driscoll, was quoted saying, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad”. So if it is a fruit, why can’t we use it in fruit salad? Yeah, talk about more confusion.

Unfortunately this confusion is not just in cars and tomatoes but it has also extended to human beings. There are people who still don’t understand who they are. I was looking at the dictionary definition of “identity crisis” and found the definition very amusing. This is what it said, a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society. No wonder some people (both men and women) start behaving odd when they hit their middle age; what they often refer to as mid-life crisis. Some get hooked up to younger partners while others start doing the most ridiculous things; basically competing with their teenage daughters and sons! Identity crisis is supposed to happen to teenagers and end with the teenage years but I guess not everyone grows up.

Sadly, many people take this condition to their professions and as a result of this identity crisis, you find them becoming a menace in their places of work. People with insecurity can be serious baggage especially to those who have to work directly with them. The worst part is when such people are given positions of authority. Oh my goodness! This becomes the massage oil they use to massage their insecurities and egos. They will use, no actually they will misuse those positions by making the lives of the people they work with a mini-hell.

What they forget is that in so doing, they are actually creating problems for themselves because it takes the collective effort of everyone to build an organization. No person can say they have built an organization single-handedly! No. It is the combined efforts of every person from every department (including the gateman) who makes a company a great company.

I once had a Managing Director who told me something I’ll never forget. He said, “Liz, it is not the title you have that makes you who you are. It is you who gives life to the title you are given. What matters is what you are doing with the title you have”. Todate I miss that gentleman and wish I could work with him again. He had a way of correcting and guiding those under him in such a gentle way, and no matter how low in the rank you were, he never made anyone feel undermined and/or unwanted. He was (and still is) very confident of himself and it showed because he suffered no insecurity. If he ever did, then he made sure no one ever noticed it.

If you are a managing director who is suffering an identity crisis, meaning you have a whole list of insecurities to deal with probably ranging from not being sure of yourself, or lack of people skills, or just a negative personality, then you need to work on making sure this does not spill over to your place of work. If you don’t deal with it, then you end up being a Damaging Director instead of Managing Director. Same case applies to a General Manager; if you have insecurities from here to Mt. Kilimanjaro, then you end up being a General Damager instead of a managing those who work with you daily. Everything you touch becomes damaged.

One of the reasons why a lot of people suffer identity crisis in adulthood is because of past experiences. Please keep in mind that you can never plan the future by the past. It doesn’t matter what happened to you in the past. You have the power today to make a new past. If you apply the concept I’ve shared above about you being the one who gives life to your title, then you will realize that you have power within you to become anyone you want, without anyone else suffering in the process.

My question to you this week will be very simple; are you suffering an identity crisis? Do you feel like the vehicle I described above, where you are not so sure who you really are? Then you need to look inward for your answer. Identify why you are insecure because being unsure of yourself stems from insecurity. The day you will realize that no one is your enemy except yourself, then you will stop feeling insecure and you will take the bold step to retake your life.

Remember, a secure person is comfortable in their own skin. They have no time to listen to what other people’s opinions of them are. They do not have time to compare themselves with other people because they know this will undermine their worth, their education and their wisdom. A secure person is confident and this confident shows in everything they do or say.

This week I truly hope that you will spend time soul searching and being true to yourself and if there is any area of your life you feel you have shown some signs of identity crisis, then it is time to put that to rest.  Like Stacy London said, “Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself, do what you love and most importantly, be kind to others even if you do not like them”.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 14th February, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"



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