Are you hanging on to your old identity?

 

In December of 2007, I finally realized my dream of living and working in New Orleans. I had started actively pursuing that dream about four years prior. All I wanted was to be in the city where my favorite basketball team played. I would watch their games and write all about them on the website I had started back in Ireland.

A couple of years later, things had gotten even better, as I had earned a media credential which allowed me to attend games free of charge, sit along the baseline each night, and even interview players and coaches in the locker room before and after each game.

Oh, and the website had become affiliated with ESPN.com, solidifying it as the go-to source for educated analysis, opinion and discussion about the New Orleans Hornets.

And then I started losing interest

There were nights when I really didn’t feel like going to a game or interviewing anybody. There were nights when I would have preferred to be doing anything else. Those nights became more frequent as time went on.

For a while I resisted how I was feeling. I felt obligated to keep running the website and doing all the work because that was my identity. I was the Hornets guy. Everybody knew me for that. I’d moved 4000 miles away from home because of a sports team. That was me. How could I walk away from it all?

Eventually I accepted that I really didn’t enjoy covering the Hornets — or any basketball for that matter — anymore.

So why was I still doing it?

It was because I still held onto that identity, afraid to give it up because it was safe and familiar.

But it was making me miserable at the same time. When I finally did give it up, I felt liberated, and I was free to craft a new identity for myself.

Now that’s not to say I have any regrets about moving to New Orleans or running the Hornets website for all that time. On the contrary, I’m extremely grateful that I was able to live out my dream and meet some great people along the way. I’m also very proud of the online community of Hornets fans and the good reputation we’ve built up over the years. I’ve been working hard this past summer to ensure it carries on strong without me.

The lesson I’ve learned though is that dreams change

And you can’t go on living a dream that has faded and died. You can’t carry on being who you’re expected to be if that identity doesn’t resonate with you anymore. That just makes you miserable. You have to let go, and perhaps risk being lost at sea for a little while until you figure out your next move, your next identity.

Having left my old identity behind, I’m now free to spend my time, energy and focus working towards my new dream. I’m much happier for it, excited about the path I’m on and the person I’m becoming.

What old identity are you clinging to? Would you be happier in the long run if you let go? Who might you become if you started again from scratch?

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  1. It remember me Eben Pagan in his Man Transformation Program who said : who you are is constantly changing. In fact, this is so true. Thanks for this post man, and please continue I love your blog.

    Yoann

  2. Love the post Niall. There is a lot of this sort of advice out there on the web but I’m always a bit weary as 99% of people who mention the word “identity” seem very fake themselves. Perhaps it was the video/post combo but you post, and your blog in general, really comes across as genuine. You have a great ability to deliver a clear and concise message in a very readable and genuine manner. In short – Love it!

  3. You absolutely have to keep writing Niall :)

    I need your posts, they make me feel less alone or weird!

    Every two years or so I get tired of the path I’m following and I look for something else. I used to feel a little guilty for this: that was because of a sort of “social resistance”, people aroud me didn’t understand this “fluidity” of my personality. Now I can accept my constant changing, I understand there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just my way.

    My actual problem is that I made a little revolution in my life seven month ago or so and I’m in a moment in which I’m not sure what my new direction will be: how long can reasonably last the gap between two identities???

    • Hey Sara, thanks for the kind words :-)

      I’m not sure how long the gap can last. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had to wait long. The best advice I can give is to keep throwing stuff at the wall and see what sticks, then go with that.

      Glad you’ve come to accept your fluid nature. I definitely have a bit of that, too.

  4. My experience isn’t quite the same as yours Niall, but there are similarities. Until my early to mid 20’s; I followed a “dream” which was not my own at all, but rather my mothers’ until I realized it was high time to GET OUT because it was making me beyond miserable. Now, whilst I’m not quite where I want to be, I’m certainly getting there, though I have also certainly been “lost at sea for (more than) a little while until you (I) figure out your (my) next move, your (my) next identity.”

    Keep up the good work boy and enjoy Asia!