From our earliest years we are preoccupied with finding and expressing our identity. Either to reflect our truest self, or in response to peer, societal or family pressures. For those of us who have many narratives, experiences, skills and competencies, pinpointing the singular statement that sums up our identity is a challenge.
We explore common themes that may join up the dots to make it easy for people to grasp us ‘in one’. Perhaps it is too unrealistic to summarise the complexity of our personal and professional make-up, so we opt for shopping lists that describe everything we do, are, can be. Social media allows for these endless, disposable, scrollable snippets describing our multi-faceted identities.
Why be succinct, when communication channels today offer the scope to proliferate boundlessly with little incentive to edit?
Like many of us concerned with expressing our identity with integrity, I regularly examine how relevant, clear and inspiring (to me, and others) the words/images I use actually are to describe what I do, what I offer, who I am.
Stagnancy is out of the question. As is approximation. Though I also fall prey to such compromises on occasion. Sometimes we try to please our audiences, customers, clients, students more than we stay honest with ourselves.
Inherent to our identity is having clear values. Ones we are prepared to stand by, hand on heart, in the choices and the contribution we make. I have distilled my values into one: “ahimsa”. Sanskrit for ‘no-violence’ or ‘harm-free’. With this value at the source of my identity, I am able to use my words, energy and intuition to navigate professional environments in need of my proven skills, with integrity and self-respect.
There is nothing easy about advocating or adopting a ‘harm-free’ approach to business, brand or design working practices, where I mostly operate. My successes are varied.
Where “ahimsa” gets most air time is in the volunteering with vulnerable people I’ve been doing for three years. Firstly, on the National Domestic Violence Helpline, then as an arts and crafts class facilitator for survivors of cruelty at the Helen Bamber Foundation, and most recently with the British Red Cross’s Refugee Support Service as a project grants writer. In these roles I look humanity right in the eye, with no filter. It’s a privilege and pleasure to be one of many using my abilities to save lives, heal trauma, build self-worth and bear witness. To see that life is a gift, even when it’s not.
Meanwhile, the words that best describe my identity these days are:
Conscious author of liberating programmes that build people up
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© Amanda Yensa Manor 2016