“Who are you?”
What a simple question, right? But when you take it apart and really consider it, it’s a pretty huge idea.
It seems like everything in my life right now is pointing me in the direction of digging in to that idea. Quick aside in all seriousness: I love the phrase “digging in” so much that it might be on my headstone when I die.
This idea grew from a conversation with my therapist, then took root when I stumbled on an Instagram post by Melissa Hartwig (the amazing, kick-ass woman behind the W30). I found myself thinking: I want to know who I am and own who I am. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what it means for me to do that. I have always owned the fact that I’m moment by moment, feelings fluid, ever-absorbing my environment, tough to pin down. That’s not near enough of an answer for me, though.
As you know, it started with that same simple question, “who are you?” posed by my therapist. Out of my mouth came the canned response, “I’m an auntie, a friend, a good listener, a fiercely loyal member of my family and I like to read.” Those are all words I typically use to identify myself and she came right back by telling me that those words don’t say much about ME and who I actually am as a person. That answer doesn’t reflect my values, my personality or what gets me out of bed in the morning. Everyone is a daughter, auntie, uncle, mother, father, son, friend, sibling or a combination of those words. Those are identifying words that we all fall back on and while there is likely a lot of pride attached to those words, it doesn’t really say who you are at your core. I’m pretty sure at this point in my life I should know the answer to that question – but I don’t. I have been so busy avoiding myself that I’ve been focused on helping those around me answer that question for themselves.
Melissa Hartwig wrapped it up in a nice little package called “self-love”, which is a concept that feels foreign to me. She says everything in life can be taken away (preach, girl) except who we really are. So why not OWN who we really are – not just those identifiers that are easy responses or the things about us that can be taken away in a moment? We need to have our identity wrapped up in OURSELVES – not who we are to other people. Do not allow outside factors to define who we are, she says, and I was completely feeling that. I’ve often handed a partner the reins in determining who I am; my value; my identity. I have been stuck waiting for life to happen TO me instead of me happening TO life. I’m just now starting to grasp this concept.
After much thought and consideration, this is me, as I know me in this moment…
I am strong. Every day I show up for my life and live it heart-forward. Sometimes it really, really, really hurts but I’ve never been sorry for my scrapes and bruises because of the lessons I’ve learned in the process.
I am caring. I have no off-switch in this regard. I almost care too much. I’m a very soft person – much too soft for this world – but I’m owning it.
I am dedicated, loyal and determined. I was once told that I only work under pressure but I think a more correct statement reflecting who I am now is that I work hard despite pressure. I have shown myself again and again that I can keep my eyes down and continue moving through something till there’s nowhere left to go. Looking back on where I’ve been, I can see the little rest stops where I might have veered off and taken another path – or more likely should have – but I know that my loyalty is often in the driver’s seat, so we go on.
I am open-minded (and open-hearted). It’s not too often that I take a hard line about anything. I’m very malleable in that I listen to other perspectives and give them time to work in me. Outside opinions often help me get to the heart of my feelings (like this blog post) so I always try to stay open for the wisdom to come.
I am always working to be a healthier version of myself. This is both at face value and metaphorically. I don’t strive for perfection I strive for healthy. I don’t always get it right and sometimes I have to stop what I’m doing, turn around, and go back. My ultimate goal is to be healthy from the inside out.
I am curious. I have a SERIOUS thirst for knowledge of all the things. I like to know the reason behind human motivations and it’s not unusual for my friends, family and really any acquaintance to be met with probing questions from me in an attempt to understand them better. I speak in feelings and understand emotion.
It’s hard work, figuring out who I am and what I’m about. This isn’t where the notion ends for me – I’ll keep digging and refining. I would just encourage you, friends, to really think about who you are at your core… after you’ve gotten past all the easy responses, what are you left with?
Love this Ryan!