All of us have heard it. Most of us do it. Some don’t understand it (and I’m jealous of you!). What am I talking about? The “I am a” syndrome. When we define ourselves by what we do, rather than who we are. Lately I’ve been trying to understand where this comes from; that is, the sense that we must accomplish something impressive to be “worthy” of love, recognition, or contentment. For most of my life I’ve identified as an athlete; first, a figure skater, and then as a runner. For the majority of my adult life I’ve also identified as a physician. Others also seem to identify me that way. “There’s the runner! There’s the doctor! There’s the doctor-runner!” And, you know what? I actually LIKED that. It made me feel accomplished. It made me feel worthy, it made me feel like a success. Over the past couple of years, and even more so recently, I have begun to see just how problematic that was.
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