A guided reflection to begin answering the question “What defines me?”
Writer. Marketing manager. Jen’s friend. I am proud to be associated with organizations and the central people in my life. When asked who we are, we tend to identify ourselves based on our relations. But what happens when you strip all of that away? What makes you uniquely you?
We’re nearing the end of January. 2014 is a time to rebuild, a time to strip away the excess and the toxic energy that holds us back and a time to refine our foundation based on who we are and what we believe in. Last year, many people started to question the existing systems that were governing their lives. People quit their jobs. People felt unfulfilled in their day to day. We set our resolutions for the year, but what can we do now to evolve into who we should be for the rest of our lives? I personally struggle with the question “What defines me?” so I’ve put together a list of questions inspired by various sources to break down this equivocal idea and make it more concrete for all of us.
I’ve found that it’s quite easy to embody the person you want to be. The challenge is to know who that person is. This exercise may be reminiscent of your college English Writing class, but the easiest way to delve in to these questions is to use stream of consciousness. Don’t get caught up in thinking too much about your answers. Just start.
Appearance & Accomplishments
Consider your 5-second snapshot. When you wake up and look in the mirror, who do you see? Does this person change as you get ready to face your day? How do you portray who you are to the world? If someone saw you in an elevator or looked at your social media profile, how would they describe you?
Think about a time you were most proud of yourself. Consider the “defining moments” in your life as well as the random recurring memories. If you came into contact with that someone in the elevator and had 15 seconds to give them your picture of yourself, what would you say?
Participation & Potential
It’s time to dive in. Confide in yourself. Describe your personality. What are qualities you want to work on? How do your actions reflect who you are? What are your passions? What is standing in the way of me becoming who you want to be? What makes you laugh from your belly? A friend told me “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” If you could spend a week doing whatever you want, what would you do? If you had an extra hour every day, what would you use that for? What are you scared of uncovering about yourself? What do you want to do before you die?
Progress & Purpose
We make choices on a daily basis, but unless we have even a vague sense of the mission we are carrying out we could wander aimlessly for years to come. Knowing either where you want to end up or at least the direction you want to go in will help you start your personal mission statement. Keep in mind that, like any resolution or goal, you have the freedom to reform as you go. You are growing and changing, so be flexible in terms of what you need to do to be your best self. You create your reality. Start by envisioning it. Who do you want to be? What qualities does the person you want to exude possess? If you could summarize your life purpose into 5 words or less, what would it be?
Isn’t it time to become the person you are meant to be? What defines you?
Catherine Abalos is founder and editor of The Single Diaries.