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Emerging from Covid and Finding Your Sense of Self

The 1980’s was one of the most dire periods of emigration in modern Irish history. For many trying to get a job, the world was grey and depressing, with no signs of hope. Despair hung in the air like a thick smog. There was no end in sight. Those who had, absolutely had it all. Those who hadn’t, had nothing. Emigration during this decade was at its height with a large percentage of Ireland’s brightest and best professionals leaving Ireland to seek a better life abroad.

With little more than a suitcase and a book I boarded a plane to London to start work. Walking through Dublin airport, I bought this poster. My one last gasp to remind me of who I was and where I came from, lest I forget!

As time went on, this poster represented so much more. It was part of my identity, my sense of self. It hung with pride of place on my wall stuck with blue tac (you can still see the marks) and everyone who knew me, knew I was Irish. But the poster represented so much more.

It represented my own sense of self, the values I held dear which resonated from the verses created by these poets and writers. The writers and their writing gave me the power of belief and the confidence and strength to succeed. I would look at the poster and be inspired to keep going, especially through the words of Beckett, Shaw and Yeats.

The poster would bring me closer to home. For such a long time this poster was both my compass and my map.

As I progressed in my career, the poster hung in my office. It was a talking point, it gave people something to look at, something to comment on. It provided an opportunity for my team to be curious and ask questions about me and who I was. At that time, the answers to these questions also got me thinking about who I was and my identity and really drove me forward in my career. On reflection it got me thinking about my own personal brand, my drive, my motivation (at a time when personal brand wasn’t even a buzzword).

Since finding the poster again I have been reminded of the importance of the need to continue on this ongoing personal journey. More so than ever when for so many our motivation and identity has been blurred by the experience of Covid, we need to reflect on our own sense of self . And as we emerge from the social and economic effects of Covid-19 pandemic, and life changes once again, we should consider whether we are still living according to our values.

Understanding oneself breeds confidence, builds resilience and strengthens our ability to overcome hardships and struggles. As we all move out of this current turmoil, take charge of the changes which are about to happen and look at your values and inner strength.

Ask yourself the questions “What do you value and are you still living by those values today?”

Stand proud of what you have achieved over the past 16 months and also what you have achieved in your family life / career so far. Then seek to continue to develop your personal sense of self by asking yourself these important questions.

  • Are you the same person you were 5, 3 or even 1 year ago?

  • How far have you come and how have you celebrated your achievements?

  • What values do you now hold close and are you living by those values?

  • What is your identity – your personal brand – your sense of self?

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