Lately, identity has been a hot topic on The Movement (IDLM online community and discussion boards).

It’s an interesting subject for us to examine together. Pretty much everyone at IDLM feels connected to providing service in the end of life space and IDLM’s main priority is to provide in-depth doula training, but not everyone in our community would feel comfortable using the word “doula” to describe themselves.

There are many reasons why you might not feel comfortable identifying as a doula at this point in your personal journey. Maybe you feel like you still haven’t gained enough knowledge or experience, or you feel like it’s disingenuous to call yourself a doula if you have not yet reached the point where you are working with clients.

Alternatively, maybe you prefer not to call yourself a doula because you feel more defined by another aspect of your life that takes priority for you. You think of yourself first as a parent, or a doctor, or an artist, or an activist, and doula work is something you also do… but a doula is not what you are. 

Everyone’s personality is made up of many facets, and for most of us identity is fluid. When you’re spending time with your family, you might seem like a totally different person than who you are at work. Maybe with one group of friends you tend to be outgoing and talkative, and with another group you don’t talk as much but you’re always the person with a snack or a band-aid if anyone needs it. If someone asked you right now, you might feel comfortable telling them that you are an end of life doula, or a death midwife, or a transition guide—or maybe you would prefer not to say very much about it. That’s completely up to you, even if it changes from moment to moment.

No matter how you choose to identify, the perspective you bring to the IDLM community is valued. Every different skill set, every different point of view, adds to our community and increases the types of information and support we are able to give each other and our clients. Many of us come to IDLM with a pretty healthy amount of previous life experience, it makes sense that we each would already have had time to figure out who we are and choose how to define ourselves.

And one more aspect of identity is the way it can evolve over time. The person you are today is different from the person you were a year ago, or ten years ago; odds are, you will also be a pretty different person ten years in the future. But the important thing is, you will still be you, with all of the knowledge and talents and personal gifts you bring to the world, and to our community. We are so glad to have you.

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