Take Hold of Your Identity

About a month or two ago, I declared it was time to re-harness my New Yorkerness . After celebrating my three-year anniversary in Seattle, I am sad to say, but I have gone a little soft.  This last year and a half, I noticed that I am less direct, more indecisive, less confidant, more schlumpy, which means, in essence, that I have lost some of my figurative NYC balls! My sister even said, “Wade, you can’t sink too far down the compost bin!” My ability to jaywalk, push through crowds and ask waiters direct questions isn’t as sharp as it once was. I even notice this softness in conversations, how I energetically show up in my community and even in my emails!

To some, New Yorkers have a bad rap. They are portrayed as rude, bossy, rushing-around, and maybe even full of themselves. However, that’s not how I see my people. I think New Yorkers, for the most part, are direct, no-bullshit, confident, friendly, curious and have a big appetite—literally and figuratively. I don’t miss all of New York, but I do miss that energy and pulse to live in the moment, to live with no bullshit and have an appetite for life.  Seattle, as beautiful as it is, it’s quite sleepy. And even though I am enjoying the slower pace and different set of values here in the PNW, I don’t want my New Yorkerness to fade.  I don’t want to assimilate too much into the culture and lose what I consider to be part of my identity.  Can you relate?  Have you moved to a new city, joined a new community or entered into a different corporate culture and feel as though you have lost your essence, some part of your own identity?

In order to tap back into my deeper roots, I set the intention of getting my NYC balls back and speaking my truth without the PNW passive-aggressive filter.  I will ask for what I want so that I can release any bullshit or indecisiveness that lingers in my life.  In order to tackle these feats and re-adjust what’s not working in my life, I had to start at square one: build awareness.  I paused and listened to the voices in my head and noticed if the actions I took matched my true intentions or if they were altered by the filters “protecting me” from being my New York self.

For instance, the other week I had a serious conversation with a Manager at one of the gyms where I teach Pilates.  During our meeting, we discussed my role and responsibilities in a very wish-washy manner.  There was a lot of gray area covered but nothing clearly explained and outlined in black or white.  I left the meeting feeling confused, unacknowledged and a bit bitter. I realized during the actual meeting, I was communicating through a passive-aggressive filter.  I expressed what I thought they wanted to hear instead of me fearlessly speaking my truth and asking the questions I wanted to ask.  After the meeting, I had a choice: stay in this communication and responsibility gray area, which felt safe and protected since nothing was clearly identified, or, I could be the bold New Yorker I am and speak up, from my heart and mind.

This brings me to step two.  Now that I fostered the awareness of being in this gray “interim” space, I tapped back into my intention and picked the road that would lead me to less bullshit, and more alignment. The following day, I wrote a very clear and direct email articulating myself with poignant examples and clarifying questions.  I chose to dig deep and grab hold of my New Yorker balls and say it like it is (without being rude of course).  It felt so fucking good and liberating to speak my mind, let me tell ya.  Not only did I feel free and more aligned with my truth, but being bold allowed me to show up in my roles with more ownership, confidence and authenticity. I now feel more connected to who I am at my roots and what I stand for.  I realize if I decided to not clarify my thoughts and stick up for myself, I would have felt dishonest about my relationship and role.  There would be unspoken tension lingering and possible bouts of resentment.

This similarly happened with one of my friends a few weeks ago. There were some incidents that upset me and instead of staying quiet about them or letting them fester under my skin for a long time, I tapped into my New Yorkness and gave my friend a phone-call to express my emotions. Man did I feel 100% times better! I no longer had to pretend there wasn’t an issue or feel nervous about creating drama.

I continue to further my intention by checking in with myself every time I write an email or question myself.  I ask: “what words or choices support me stepping further into my New Yorkerness, into my bold truth?”  I am now able to call myself out when I hear my mind want to dance around the answer and fill my response with extra words or even hide my answer because I don’t want to “cause a scene.”  No more waiting in the sidelines or pitter-pattering around what I want to say.  This practice of tapping back into my identity feels hydrating and refreshing because I am more boldy stepping into my skin and listening to my inner self.

If you can relate on some level to feeling off-balance or not fully taking charge of your life, try following these three steps to tap back into your identity:

1.     Set your intention. Ask yourself: What ways do I want to show up more authentically in life? For instance, maybe you want to tap back in to the more generous, creative, playful or even sexual side of yourself.

2.     Build awareness of what filters prevent you from speaking and being your truth. What thoughts do you hear yourself say when you want to take action?  For instance, are you afraid other’s wont like you?  Do you experience thoughts of rejection?  You can do this by reflecting in your journal, spending time alone on a walk or meditating.  (or even talking to me!) Ponder this question with curiosity… no judgment.

3.     Create an empowering anchor question tied to your intention in step 1 that helps direct your choices.  For instance: “What is my truth in this moment?” “What is my gut telling me?” “How can I be more generous?” Or “How can I be more bold?” Ask yourself this question every time you feel stuck and not sure which part of your identity wants to express itself.

Learning to speak your truth is an invaluable skill that will support you in every dimension of your life—work, relationships, health, spirituality etc.  When you are more aligned and in-touch with your identity, you show up in life with more authenticity, energy, confidence and direction.