When I was in high school there was a trivia contest. As a brainiac, I was a natural pick for a team; but my teammates neglected to factor in two alarmingly pertinent details — my abysmal self-image and mortal fear of being publicly called out.
During the contest my brain froze. I couldn’t form thoughts or speak words. My body became paralyzed with terror, unable to hit the button, even when I knew that ascorbic acid was Vitamin C. Our team lost and I let everyone down. I was humiliated and utterly mortified. For years I avoided trivia like a deadly plague. My immutable identity was “Trivia Failure.”
Then one evening in my late twenties, right out of the blue, a group of friends wanted to play a trivia game.
What do I do! Develop a sudden illness and escape? No, it’s too obvious. These friends don’t know about my sordid trivia past, I don’t want to shame myself in front of them! What if I’m humiliated again? Ack! It’s too late, this game is happening, there’s no way out! AAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa……
As it turned out, some things had changed and I blew that game out of the water. I’d vastly broadened my interest base and really did know a lot of information about a lot of topics. I had overcome my debilitating shyness and replaced it with self-confidence and an ability to laugh at myself. I was very surprised and very pleased with this unanticipated outcome.
For a decade I had been carrying around the burden of a completely false, outdated identity! Once put to the test, I gained a new identity of “Trivia Bad A**!” I no longer had to live with an underlying panic that any social situation might at any moment devolve into trivia torture. I had recognized a case of self-true-identity theft!
I’ve realized I’ve been carrying around quite a number of these old identities from the days of my overly dramatic youth. I’m decades older and wiser now and one-by-one I learn how false these outdated identities are. Finally I can let them go in exchange for truer identities worthy of the vast work of I’ve done growing and thriving.
What outdated identities are you lugging around?