Who are we without our titles?
I remember the days when I felt micromanaged. At the time I was so young and so naïve; I was kind of afraid of those managers. I was also brought up to be a nice girl who respects everyone especially people who are older than me and those who had “bigger” titles than mine. I did not feel a lot of respect towards them but I was intimated. I did not want to pursue tasks or requests that came through them that did not align with my values but they still had this power on me.
Those moments were always rough. I did not have the experience or the language I have now to make sense of it. So I followed the rules as much as I can. Something always felt off though.
I never forgot the moment when I realized they were just another human being who had no power over me as soon as I quit that job. They still had the “manager” title but we did not have that work relationship anymore. That was an odd, shocking moment for me. She could not tell me to do things I don’t want anymore. I still felt intimated because that is what she made me feel all those years but now she had no power over me.
At that moment, I recognized again that we are all human after all, titles are temporary and it can be taken away from you in a second. Who will you be when you do not have that title? Where will your power come from?
It seemed ridiculous to use your title as your power. We are equal. We are the ones who put that weight on titles. Titles give us identity.
Then I had this intense experience with titles and the identities when I moved to a new country.
I was simply nobody. Wow! That was a strange feeling.
I was not an IBMer, I was not somebody who had zillion friends to hang out with, I did not belong to any company, I was not the graduate of a college that is well-known, I was not the member of an intellectual and respected family, I was not even a credit card holder or kind of credible person (since they did not think my 10 years of using common credit cards like AMEX, Visa, Mastercard mattered since it was not in the US and of course I had no credit history). These were only some of the identities I built over the years. It seemed none of them mattered in this new life I chose. I was starting from scratch.
It was a big awakening to see my titles, where I live, how much money I make, what I possess, my health is all temporary. I no longer wanted to be defined by them. Obviously I found some of my worth through those identities and with one decision I made, they were gone. I did not want to be in that position ever again.
Who am I with no titles and no identities then? That was the question I dwelled in.
It was almost an out-of-body experience although for the answers I needed to take an inner journey. It was scary at first but it is one of the best journeys I took. Even if I have nothing left, if I am ripped of all the new identities I acquired here in my new country, I got to know who I really am. It is one of the most freeing feelings because I am constantly reminded no external recognition, no amount of earthly possessions can steal that away from me.
I am the same person wherever I work, whatever I do, wherever I live.
I may have never taken this journey if I was not forced with the decision to live somewhere new. I am grateful though ‘cause it sure is a journey worth taking.