Who Am I?
Updated: Mar 8
How do we define ourselves?
Are we static or ever changing?
Our teenage years is often a time for searching for our identity.
Is it fixed or does it keep moving?
Photo by Rob Curran on Unsplash
“Who am I”, you ask? I am made from all the people I’ve encountered and all the things I have experienced. Inside, I hold the laughter of my friends, the arguments with my parents, the chattering of young children, the warmth of kind strangers. Inside, there are stitches from cracked hearts, bitter words from heated arguments, music that gets me through and emotions I cannot convey. I am made from all these people and moments. That is who I am.
– Ming Di Liu
I had a client recently who was struggling with this question and was pondering it for quite a while.
So, I got to thinking and realised that this uncertainty is something our young people go through. Just as many adults do, it’s a lifelong question for many of us.
Do we define ourselves by our jobs, family unit, marital status or what’s happened to us?
It’s not surprising that it’s something that crops up, especially in our young people. Those who have barely begun their journey and are scrambling around to find an identity that suits them, that fits them and sets them apart from or gently within the crowd.
Mel Schwartz suggests in his book ‘The Possibility Principal’ that rather than the question being ‘Who am I?’ instead maybe we need to consider ‘How would I like to engage with life?’
Doesn’t roll off the tongue so well does it? And I feel it’s less specific to me, so I dug a little deeper into his thoughts.
He suggests that our identity needs to be seen as an ongoing process – we are not static, so we need to embrace a flowing sense of ourselves. Perpetually re-framing, re-organising, re-thinking, and re-considering ourselves as we move through our life and the world around us.
That makes sense and a healthy dose of reflection is good for all of us.
With our different experiences, the people, and the places that we visit having an impact on us and how we engage with life.
He likens us to being malleable, like a willow tree, that bends and flows with the wind, rather than an oak that will often snap under too much force.
“Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am - and what I need - is something I have to find out myself.”
― Chinua Achebe
Schwartz describes how the universe is in a constant state of flowing potential, and we are part of that. By accessing that worldly potential, we can keep and shed elements of our identity overtime as we find what does and doesn’t work for us.
That’s if we embrace and develop this ability to reflect, shedding or rearranging the old and trying out the new. But not allowing ourselves to become too stuck down or held up in our musings.
For some of us that will be a welcome opportunity, reflecting, growing, and developing, allowing us to challenge our belief systems and thought processes.
Others will feel confident, feel no need to ask the question and as he suggests, they will have little room, desire or opportunity for growth and change, in a world that does nothing but that. Becoming eventually stuck and challenged in their chosen mould.
What do you think?
I know the person that I want to be. Someone who has the ability to grow and develop, being able to embrace new experiences and learning that I am constantly changing and evolving.
How do you want to be?
Let me know by emailing me with your thoughts.