Finding Identity

The scene: a Starbucks in DuPont Circle, Washington, DC. The conversation: an update on my career progress. The words that upset me: “Jess, one day you’ll become a TV reporter but once that happens, you’ll ask yourself, ‘is this it? What else is next?’ At that point, you’ll look for the next best thing to define you.”

That conversation took place four years ago with a friend. I was working as a general assignment reporter at the time but I wanted to be on-air instead of reporting for a digital news outlet. I was 25 and convinced that my identity was rooted in what I did for a living because according to me, only that mattered in life, and no one could tell me any different.

I was a girl on a mission, career ambitions front and center, with hopes that I would become the next Diane Sawyer…I’m clearly not Diane Sawyer these days and truth is, I didn’t become an on-air reporter either.

The conversation with my friend that day entailed more than I remember but I walked away with those words because they held so much weight and girl did they sting deep. I mean D-E-E-P. Over the next few years, I realized that I actually had purpose beyond fulfilling my career ambitions but I had to remain introspective and strip away my pride to come to that realization.

Don’t misunderstand me – I believe in ambition, drive, working hard, paying your dues, climbing the ladder, making that money honey, and just killing it at work – but our identities go beyond that.

Your personal identity is generally shaped by your early experiences in life, whether good or bad. Perhaps you come from a broken home, maybe you were rejected or abused, or perhaps your childhood was one without hardships. But understand this, your identity is not based upon what happened to you or what you’ve experienced. 

You and I have been created in His image for good works and it’s because of His redeeming grace on the cross that you and I get a new life and identity. If no one has told you, know that you are beautiful, forgiven, redeemed, loved, cared for, sought after, worth being pursued, accepted, kind, His daughter, able, smart, strong, a new creation, and more.

Understanding what defines you makes a monumental change in every part of life. Once you realize that your identity isn’t rooted in what you do or what you’ve been through, everything can change around you but nothing can strip away whose you are and what you are.

Jessica Martinez