You’re like a human bank account, positively invest in you and goodness will multiply! I’m really interested in this idea of identity capital and the ways in which young people are investing in themselves. I’m all for leading an unconventional life but I think what some of us are forgetting to ask is if what we are doing, relationship/career/experiences wise, is actually investing goodness and value into who we are. I’m not saying you need to stress over finding the best possible job, or even find a job at all. I’m just suggesting that before you commit to someone or something, ask yourself “What is this opportunity or individual adding to my life?” If the answer seems like it will be of value to you, do it. If you think you’ll be able to look back and talk about it as a learning experience or time of growth, do it. Lately I’ve been trying to ask myself that question much more often, even for the small stuff. For instance, there’s Brittany scrolling through Facebook for 45 minutes and then she asks herself, “Is this adding value to my life and day? Is it helping me to grow or learn something new?” You can guess what the answer is. This practice is obviously rooted in mindfulness and a whole lot of will power but it’s worth trying out and seeing how often you may be wasting your time or settling for a relationship/experience that isn’t adding anything meaningful to you as a human. To you as a whole. So you’re thinking you’d like to invest some goodness into who you are? Here are some suggestions.
I’m a huge advocate of giving your time to something and committing to a gig that gives you no monetary return. This probably has something to do with how much I have gotten out of volunteering. I have primarily volunteered in the arts sector with children and in two family shelters over the past three years. I didn’t have the opportunity to work with children or facilitate within my day job so I looked elsewhere for it because I know how much that setting feeds my soul. Volunteering is a great way to add meaning to your life and value to your resume especially if your job isn’t exactly what you’d like it to be. There is such a wealth of causes and opportunities out there, you’re bound to find one that suits your interests and your availability. When you volunteer, a few significant things happen. You increase the experience and variety on your resume. You expose yourself to a new network of people (so potential for new opportunities or maybe even a job). You challenge yourself to stay committed and exercise all of those transferable skills you’ve been building over the years. And last but not least, you get to experience those warm fuzzies that hit you when you’ve realize how much of a difference you’ve made. Warm fuzzies guys, they’re REAL.
You wanna talk about investing in yourself? Try going across the world on your own and stepping out into a foreign place with no one to rely on but yourself. I’ve done two solo trips and have literally felt myself grow and mature exponentially each time. From the planning to the navigating to the self-reflective experiences, solo travel is an opportunity for huge growth and self-discovery. In terms of the investment in your identity, when you’re travelling on your own you build up thicker skin when you have to advocate for yourself or summon confidence in a new scenario. It is an opportunity to make your own decisions and solely look after yourself for a period of time. You learn about a new culture and landscape without distraction and have to find a level of comfort with not being able to turn to someone and talk about what you’re experiencing. Being alone forces you to communicate with strangers more than you would if you had a travel buddy and it allows you to meet and make connections with others along the way. I love the sense of independence that it gives me and every little step feels like an accomplishment. I’d even go as far as suggesting that you create purposeful solo travel. Obviously exploration is a valid purpose but what if you went somewhere alone to volunteer, get certified in something, or participate in a retreat? Adding a goal to your travel only makes the value increase – when you come back you can say, “I went there to accomplish ‘x’ and I did it all on my own.”
As much as your group of friends are a meaningful part of your life and happiness, I would like to challenge you to step outside of that group. It’s easy to get into the habit of spending time with the same small set of people who have similar values, hobbies, and interests as us. This feels really good because there is a lot to talk about and we always agree and feel solidarity in that. But at the same time, these relationships tend to not challenge us or push us to grow at a quicker rate. I’m not suggesting you ditch your friends completely but I think there’s value in putting yourself in a new setting to meet others that may be more different from you. These can be acquaintance-like relationships but what you’ll find is that these folks will question you more, expose you to new perspectives, and they could potentially lead you to new opportunities that you didn’t even know existed. I think there’s something beneficial about sending yourself back to that kindergarten scenario and having to make a new friend. Sometimes it’s the people you know the least who bring you the most opportunity, growth, and learning.
If you can make a conscious effort to invest in your identity, over time you will see a positive shift in who you are. Don’t get stagnant and complacent. Everyday is a new day to push yourself outside your comfort zone and grow. There’s no maximum cut off for your growth, knowledge, and identity capital so don’t stop!
Thanks for reading, my friends. You are worthy and beautiful.