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Rob in uniformI’ve learned a few things about being vulnerable lately. As the title of this blog indicates, I view the beneficial form of vulnerability as an unfolding, a receptivity, an openness. Then there is the form of vulnerability that makes one feel defenseless, and helpless. I cherish the former version of vulnerability.

The other day I experienced an on-going identity crisis. Another step in the evolution I guess of my own vulnerability into that unfolding openness. I was about to end my shift in the Medical Emergency Response Vehicle,and I was washing the dishes. Suddenly I felt a bit of grasping, a tightness in my chest, and I realized there was something in me that didn’t want to end the shift.

I, as suddenly, realized that I was identifying myself by my service to the community as a volunteer firefighter/EMT. All the more so because I haven’t worked in almost two years. So I have had to begin sifting through these feelings of worth and value because as a male I have placed a lot of value and worth on what I do for a living, of being able to bring home the bacon as it were. Does that mean I have to identify myself that way?

Times are different, and for me in some ways, rather dramatically. I have for a while been the housekeeper where I live. My beloved brings home the paycheck. I am a full time student, which is another identity of “doing,” and housekeeper. But it raises the question again, who am I? How do I identify myself, and perhaps more importantly, how do I identify myself to myself?

This comes back to the notion of identifying on the basis of being rather than doing. In a day and age where it is widely recognized by many that there is an emphasis on do, do, do, being is secondary. Despite our high levels of unemployment, our productivity is the same if not up. People doing more. Sales of energy drinks, the levels of extreme sports being engaged in, the levels of TV being watched, all point to 1) people doing and 2) people identifying around what they are doing, and the perceived need to stay “energized” to accomplish all that is expected. And of course, a resume defines you by what you have done.

How would my resume sound if it was based on who I am? Not drummer, Buddhist, blogger, full time student, certified here, degreed there, firefighter/EMT, board member, nonprofit owner, business owner, blah blah blah. None of that, which I can hotlink (at least 7), but how would I hotlink who I am?

Rather a resume would say I’m kind, gentle, empathetic, accommodating, teachable, curious, communicative, fair, open, honest, defined (meaning I have and know my boundaries), and contemplative.

That’s the kind of bio I guess shows up on a dating site. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social sites are filled with what we do. Mine is anyway. Even the website for my nonprofit has a list of activities. As I look at what I am, it calms that anxiety of not officially “doing” anything. No job title. It shifts the focus, and might I conjecture that a greater sense of who I am as a being can better inform what I could be doing, and will make me better at it?

I will leave you with that question my friends. I appreciate you for who you are, and would love to hear from your “being” bio, and how you feel when you identify yourself to yourself.