In trying to articulate it today, I had an epiphany. If we are social beings, then our sense of identity: of who we are, is shaped by our social interactions: of how others react to us.
You will agree that you expect to have this sense of social standing, of balance, in all your interactions with fellow humans. You will be polite to the senior and at ease with the peer. You will size up every person who appears in your field of vision to decide how to react. You will do this unconsciously. When someone fails the unconscious classification, or if recent events have led you to believe there is more than meets the eye, you will become attentive and careful.
These interactions over an extended period define your social standing. They become you. You may have trouble articulating this definition, perhaps no better than the crude wording in the Objective paragraph of your resumé, but it doesn’t matter because this all works without thinking. You instinctively know who you are, and all is good.
And what greater source of identity could there be than your daily routine? The place where you work everyday, the things you do there, the people you hang out with after? What more common disruption could you have than to change all these at short notice? Common, yet devastating?
I no longer write here. Twitter doesn’t let me say it like it is. The people I work with have changed. The work has changed. The people I hung out with have moved on. There are new people, nice people, but as yet unfamiliar people.
For long months I wondered what worried me so. Now I know.