My Ever-Changing Identity: An Update from 65 Days, 10 Jobs, and 11 States into Hourly America

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I played baseball until I was 21 years old. When I met people and they asked me what I did, I said, “I play baseball and my name is Heath. Nice to meet you.”

One day I walked into my coach’s office and quit. I held back tears as I told him I wasn’t going to return for my senior year because I wanted to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. It wasn’t hard because I was leaving baseball. It was hard because all of a sudden I had to re-evaluate who I was. I had to find a new identity. I was no longer “Heath the baseball player,” I was just Heath.

I had never realized just how much I had let my identity be wrapped up in the title of “Heath, the baseball player.” I was worried I would lose friends and girls would no longer like me because I didn’t walk around with my glove on. I was stressed that my relationship with my Dad wouldn’t be as good because we wouldn’t have baseball in common. In retrospect, I realize how foolish this is. But it’s something I really struggled with. I had to figure out who Heath was outside of the diamond. I had to find a new identity.

As it turned out, my relationship with my Dad has never been better. I married the girl of my dreams and now I’m living a pretty cool life traveling the country in an RV. I work a new job in every state. Sometimes I work two jobs a week. My jobs are never the same, and I’m constantly changing roles and work-identities. One day I’m a martial arts assistant and the next I’m a kitchen staff. I guess you could say I’ve come a long way with accepting an ever-changing identity.

But first, I had to go through a bunch of identity changes before I realized the titles never mattered in the first place.

After I left baseball, I was just a student. Then I launched my first business in college and became an entrepreneur. I loved this title. After college I joined a technology start up and became a salesman. When I decided to leave my job and travel the country I was suddenly a full time writer. My title changed once again. Now as we turn Hourly America into a documentary project I’m also a film maker.

And over the last 65 days my title has changed an additional ten times. Where I have played a new role in all of the following businesses.

Prescott Valley, AZ: Buffalo Wild Wings
Saint George, Utah: Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Las Vegas, NV: Redcross Lifegaurding
Seattle, WA: Domino’s Pizza
Portland, OR: Portland Art Museum
Idaho Falls, ID: Mike’s Music Shop
Jackson Hole, WY: Persephone Bakery and Cafe

What have I realized from my job title changing almost every day?

My identity is not wrapped up in my job, and it never was.

My identity is this picture below. I’m just Heath. A young, adventurous, God-fearing, and dorky young husband. This is who I am.

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When I start a new job, I bring this dorky guy named Heath with me. And when I leave? I take off my apron and walk out the same guy who came in. I may have worked a different job that day, but I’m generally the same person who walked in that morning (Just with more flour, dirt, and smells).

On the days when I write, I’m a writer working on his first book proposal. On the days when I drive my RV across three states, I’m a full time RV’er learning the reigns. On the days I edit film, I’m a film maker producing a documentary about hourly workers across America. My job titles change constantly, but the way I work never does. The way I joke and try to live life with a smile, never changes with any new role I fill.

I’ve found a way to let go of the heaviness of titles in my life. I don’t want them to hold me back anymore. If I start a new job tomorrow as a bread maker, I have to leave all of my lifeguarding skills behind and start fresh. I now realize it’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given in my life.

The realization that my job is not who I am, and it never was.

If you feel so obliged, I would love to meet you via the comment section below. I don’t want to know what your job is or what company you started, I just want to know who you are. Don’t hold back, tell the truth. What are you afraid of? What have you overcome in your life? These are the questions that matter, right? These are the questions we would ask our best buddy over a camp fire and a few beers, so why not ask them all the time? They are what makes life’s sweet moments so sweet.

6 Responses

  • I like this one!! It is more of you and emotion which makes it a good read. However, you left out a job….you get to be my son-in-law! 🙂 Love and miss you guys!!

  • Hi, Heath! I’m Jonathon.

    I’ve spent the last 12 years in one kick-ass, well paying job.That’s something that my generation was never promised. I have a great life. I weathered the scary downturn with nary a hiccup.

    It’s also not the life that I want. I’ve been there too long. It’s been “time to go” for a while. I’ve been paying down what little debt I’ve accumulated, so I don’t need so much.

    What am I afraid of? I haven’t been able to pick something besides what I’m doing that provably generates value for someone else (the evidence of that being “income”, right?). I’m paying debt down, so I don’t have savings (I used it to not earn +1% when I’m paying -14.5% on borrowed money…)

    I’m scared I won’t ever figure out that “something else” that I can do that gets the bills paid…

    • You’re not alone Jonathon. I’m constantly afraid that I will end up having to get a job I don’t love in order to pay the bills. However, if I think of the “worst” job I’ve ever had, I recall it wasn’t so bad after all (I mean heck, I survived). I also think of my father, who worked for 30+ years in a job he really didn’t like, mostly shift work, in order to pay the bills for his three boys to grow up and go to college like he couldn’t do.

      It’s awesome you’ve been able to pay down most of your debt. If you break even, you are doing better than most Americans driving around in fancy cars that have $100k in debt to their name. The cool thing about being debt free and living with less, is you realize that you don’t need all that much in order to get by.

      I wish you the best of luck in your journey to finding “the next thing” that you can do in order to get the bills paid. It seems like you have a great attitude, and keeping a job for 12 years through downturns shows you must have a solid work ethic. I’m willing to bet those things enable you to make the leap to whatever it is you choose next.

      It’s never too late to try something new.

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