Nothing without the suit?

At the weekend I watched Spider-Man: Homecoming at the cinema. One line in the film from Tony Stark speaking to Peter Parker really resonated with me. Tony Stark requests the Spider-Man suit back from Peter Parker who exclaims that he is nothing without the suit. Stark's response is "If you're nothing without this suit, then you shouldn't have it."

It brought back difficult feelings from when I was recently made redundant. Suddenly I was faced with going back to the Job Centre for the second time in my life and I felt like my whole identity had been taken away from me. I questioned what on Earth I would say when meeting new people and they asked me to tell them about myself, or what I did for a living, to the point that I felt the need to avoid social situations so the conversation never had to come up.

The thought genuinely crossed my mind that I was nothing without a job. I let this anxiety and low self-esteem rule me for longer than I care to admit, and it got slowly worse the longer it took for me to find employment and I felt more and more like I was a useless failure. I was so used to having a label of either being a student or having a job title that it had not occurred to me that I was and always will be something without that.

Fortunately, I made the choice to pick myself back up again and the time out of work was well spent on a lot of mindful personal development work and choosing to be resilient. I thoroughly evaluated who I was as a person and what was truly important to me, making use of my beloved journal to do so.

I realised that it was perfectly normal to feel a huge knock of confidence given the situation but that I didn't need a suit, so to speak, to be the person I am.  My identity is formed from a multitude of factors and even if I was to lose everything I would still be me.  I would still be me from my qualities, background, beliefs, choices etcetera and my loved ones would not ever think I was nothing just because I am without work.

My challenge to you is to take out your journal and answer the following question: "Who am I?". If the first words that come to you are anything to do with your vocation then dig far deeper, consider what you value and stand for.  I'd love to hear how you get on.

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