Riding wave of change: Why personal reinvention matters
Embracing a life where we are not scared to take on new responsibilities and actualize new dreams is a worthy way to craft a legacy that matters to us and to the lives we might touch
The phenomenon of change cannot be eliminated, but the barriers that limit us from dealing with it meaningfully certainly can. So, go on, reinvent yourself and reinvent yourself again, since human potential can do things that exceed all expectations, for a life of exemplary courage, that is your own
I must find myself a life, a new life, even if all of life consists only of an endless search for life - Robert Walser
In a world that heavily emphasises identity, we see a feverish urge to preserve our essence, or who we 'truly' are, against changing times. We are supposed to be original, unique and one-of-a-kind and struggle to stand out for a timeless distinctiveness. However, such attempts are often at loggerheads with the phenomenon of change, with the fact that nothing remains the same. Even if we are doing well as a certain person today, that essential identity might not be relevant tomorrow. We therefore need to move to a less static and more dynamic idea of identity and understand that growing and developing requires reinvention, and perhaps, repeated reinvention.
Several scholars and philosophers from different schools of thought have long rejected the idea of a pure essence. Poststructuralist theory tells us that we're always in a state of becoming as opposed to being one particular thing. To make the implication more immediate, in other words, we are not a set of fixed characteristics but an in-flux, evolving species and need to understand that identity cannot become stagnant. For instance, if someone has been known to be carefree in their youth with fewer responsibilities, the same carefree attitude will be irrelevant to a time of late adulthood which requires sincerity and attention. Reinvention thus is necessary and is in fact, taking control of the inevitability of change to an extent.
Come to think of it, everything changes, ranging from dressing styles to tastes in music to modes of payment. If we're willing to change, the struggle of keeping up with the times comfortably becomes indubitably easier. Other than that, there is a bigger case for why staying dynamic is beneficial. It ensures that we do not settle down redundantly, get intimidated by new developments or do a disservice to our dreams, aspirations and potential. There are numerous success stories where overachievers in a particular field reinvented themselves to stay true to their missions in life.
A publication by IE University in Spain lists how some of the world's most successful individuals have reinvented themselves during their lives - often more than once from Arnold Schwarzenegger who went on from being a bodybuilder to an actor to the governor of California and Vera Wang who donned the hats of a figure skater, journalist, then a fashion designer. The same publication notes how reinventing yourself is vital to health and happiness, quoting studies that have shown a midlife career shift, for instance, can improve brain cognition, overall well-being, and longevity and how reinventing yourself to live more in alignment with your values can transform your satisfaction in life. Furthermore, having a clear sense of purpose is associated with a vast range of mental and physical health benefits.
Reinvention, therefore, is worthy of reflection and embracing. First of all, it is necessary to nurture an attitude that enables us to judiciously transform and not be mindlessly averse to it. This has to be accompanied with a practice of repeated self-reflection and a probing into if we are in tune with our core values and doing justice to what we have to offer. Once this mental, internal background or action is set in place, the real work can begin. For example, at 18, you might want to train in the academic disciplines of the social sciences to choose a stable bureaucratic career. However, in the course of your training, if you realize that you can take your learning to another domain of service and make a bigger change, you should not let an idea that motivated your earlier endeavour hold you back. You must be willing to adhere to meaningfulness more than stability and recreate your identity. This requires keeping ourselves in tune with rational possibilities and probabilities and educating ourselves through fact and assessment about the kind of impact we want to make, how we can make it and also, how it will impact our own sense of fulfilment.
With these considerations in place, embracing a life where we are not scared to take on new responsibilities and actualize new dreams is a worthy way to craft a legacy that matters to us and to the lives we might touch. The phenomenon of change cannot be eliminated, but the barriers that limit us from dealing with it meaningfully certainly can. So, go on, reinvent yourself and reinvent yourself again, since human potential can do things that exceed all expectations, for a life of exemplary courage, that is your own.
(The author is Chief Impact Officer at Recykal Foundation)