A New Identity
- Welcome back to the fourth in a series of weekly reflections on the tiny shifts that change everything.
My visa permits me to work in Switzerland. This gave me a shot at working as a ski instructor in a Swiss Resort, a dream job considered close to impossible for an American. When European Snowsports offered me a position, in Verbier no less, I was ecstatic.
It took longer than expected to convert my visa into a work permit. As that process dragged on into late December, the prospect of working the busy Christmas season started to fade. But then, on Christmas Eve, it came through.
When it did, to my great surprise, I was crushed instead of elated. Fact was, I had become excited about enjoying the holidays with Hannah instead of teaching every day, as I had done since we met. When I asked, Hannah admitted she was excited about the same.
But wait. I’m a skiinstructor! A ski instructor booked months in advance for every available day over the holidays. Now that I have my work permit, of course I’ll pack up and drive to Verbier on Christmas morning as soon as we have finished opening presents. Because that’s who I am!
But…and…yet…this was a chance to spend the holidays together–skiing in Switzerland no less–for the first time since we’d met. When would we get that chance again?
My stomach was sour, my shoulders tight, and my gut full of butterflies as I called the ski school director to ask to start later in the week. She reluctantly but graciously agreed.
My decision to start later in the week and only work the mornings was as jarring as it was great. After my first morning lesson, I was hanging out with other instructors who were grabbing a quick bite before heading back out to teach. That was tough. I’d always been one of them – grab a quick bite then head back out to teach another lesson and do that for days on end during busy times. Now I was “one of those” who went home at noon, even on busy days. Prioritizing the time with Hannah felt odd and uncomfortable, like trying to be comfortable in clothes that don’t quite fit.
But I grew into those clothes. They did fit. I could be an amazing ski instructor and spend afternoons during the holidays enjoying ski adventures with her. It brought me tremendous joy.
Sometimes the only way forward is to let go of an identify you’ve worked years to create and are still ferociously holding onto. Confusing who I am now with how who I’ve identified as in the past came very close to robbing me of new and wonderful experiences this winter.
Next winter? Not sure, but whatever I choose, I’ll take the decision with intention and awareness.
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Au revoir for now!