Between Identities | Navigating the Transition from Old Self to New Beginnings

Mona Khalil
4 min readApr 2, 2024

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Playing the cowardly lion in the 4th grade Wizard of Oz play

My old self is sitting in the room with my new self.

Old me wants to reach out to be held.

New me wants to reach in and rest.

I had to be a giver for old me to survive. I was moving at a ludicrous speed. My reflex was to keep pouring into people. Maybe I saw pieces of my old self in them. Maybe I appreciated being seen. People quickly told me to give more when I gave what I could. I abandoned myself in the process until there was nothing left of me. My old life was falling apart, and something new was emerging. They say trauma sharpens your purpose. My decisions led me to new identities.

Old me wants to be generous with my love.

New me wants reciprocity.

Circumstances forced me to slow down and examine all my relationships inside out. I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I had allowed a few friends and family into my limited capacity and space. And yet, when I let them in, I experienced an array of a push-and-pull dynamic emerging; jabs were taken at my expense, and untrustworthy actions were taken behind my back. I journaled about how conversations left me feeling. As I adjusted my pace, I no longer wanted to give at the cost of being small, disregarded, or constantly taken advantage of.

Old me wants to believe they value my effort.

New me wants to bet on myself.

I poured into my career. Being first-generation, navigating my career was full of risk-taking with little support. There was no blueprint. I wanted to believe prioritizing my career would get me the stability I dreamed of. Instead, I found myself in environments that wanted to pigeonhole me. In a recent study, researchers looked through more than 1.3 million Glassdoor reviews and identified five attributes of a toxic corporate culture: disrespectful, non-inclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive. If you have had to leave a job or go through a layoff, you learn there is no security in working for a company. Some people believe walking away makes you weak. Old me thought they would value and respect me if I worked hard enough. New me wants to invest in my coaching business to be connected to entrepreneurship, community, and my purpose.

Old me wants who I was.

New me wants who I am.

One of my new identities is being a caregiver to my single parent due to medical malpractice. As an only child, I left my old life in Oakland to move back to my hometown to care for my mother. The pandemic hit a few months after my relocation. I took on a new role with no local family or support system. Being a caregiver is often unplanned and abrupt. The experience can be traumatic. The new identity changes you and your life. There is no preparation for the rush of emotions that flows through your body as the parenting roles are reversed. A reel of your childhood memories plays. Grief hits you randomly. Complex emotions burst like broken pipes associated with how your parent cared for you and how you are now caring for them. Old you and new you are confronted with your birth and their death approaching.

Activity: I recently did a writing exercise on a blank paper. We were told to create two columns labeled: 1. My Core Identities 2. Assigned Identities. I created a 3rd and 4th column and labeled them: 3. Old Identities 4. New Identities

What are your identities?

Old me wants to hold on.

New me wants to let go.

Everything comes at a cost. My world used to be small. Old me and new me would be in conflict when I visited home. And now I live here again. I need to look forward and let go of who I used to be. Old me does not serve me. My city looks and feels different. My relationships feel familiar yet distant. Everything has changed over time, including myself. I am not who I used to be. Who I once was doesn’t exist anymore, but being in this environment has resuscitated the side of me I neglected. There are complicated emotions underneath the soil where old me exists. Half of me wants to explore, while the other half wants me to let go. As if coming across an old journal from my childhood, I want to read, yet I am unsure if I am ready to go down Alice’s rabbit hole. The emotional pull activates all my senses to a place and time I once suppressed. At the end of the day, old me lives inside me, I cannot fully let go.

What is trying to emerge in my life right now?

The yellow brick road symbolizes enlightenment and freedom. Walking towards an unknown path and trusting what emerges along the way. My new identity was birthed from a breakdown and turned into a breakthrough. When we can heal an old version of ourselves, our future selves guide us in the present moment. I will keep betting on myself. I want to create a life that brings me joy. I want to live a life of healing and growth. I want to die knowing I have lived a life I can stand ten toes down on. And so far, I have.

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Mona Khalil

Name Dipped In Mango | Transformational Leadership Coach & Consultant | Peace Corps, Tesla, LinkedIn Alum | Author of #iwritelettersinmythoughts 🇬🇾🥭🇪🇬