This Call for Submissions was inspired by a conversation surrounding the death of Chris Cornell. Good Men Project Contributor Andy Grant wrote: “I bet it is painful for anyone whose identity is tied to their job or role. And when you are seen by the public AS that job or role – even more difficult to be ‘just’ you.”
Andy’s comment reminded me of my own identity issues: first as a new empty nester when my son graduated from high school and moved away to college when I was only 35 years old; and second, when I went from a caregiver to needing care after a complicated injury.
When a man’s occupation is a big part of his identity, he seems to feel (as some have expressed to me and others I have observed) fear and anxiety if his role is at risk of being eliminated. My observation has been that this is usually unrelated to the fear of not being able to provide for dependents. Instead, this fear is about losing one’s identity and, perhaps, having to redefine oneself or perish. Is it the same for all genders or is there a stronger connection to masculinity? My experience from the perspective of a woman was, in fact, one of having to redefine myself or be crushed by the misery of not being who I thought I was.
A friend of mine is a high school football coach. He’s a compassionate man who cares about his student players on and off the field. His concern for the evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy(CTE) has him conflicted: for the safety of his kids, for the sport, and for his career as a coach. In discussing it with him as gently as I could, it seemed clear to me that his very identity is so interconnected with football that the threat of losing the sport to CTE was close to a death sentence for him, personally.
What about when a man retires? Does depression ensue? Why is the transition from work to retirement often so challenging?
I am a mere student of Psychology and student of life. I am interested in the perspective of those of you who understand this subject of personal identity and career or other role. If you are an expert in the field, tell us all about this subject. If you are a man who has experienced the threat of losing a career that has (or did) defined you, tell us your story! Click the big red box below to submit!
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