“Be unrelenting in determining who you want to be and simply be that person.” I heard this on one of the many podcasts I listen to and it resonated with me. At the time I was struggling with a characteristic of mine that I was trying to change and was about to give on. (I truly wish I could remember which podcast gave me this gem!) That quote and the ensuing discussion helped me to refocus my efforts. I recommitted to making the change because I realized that though difficult, it was integral to who I was becoming.
Who am I?
What a complex question! Of course I know who I am… right? I am the only subject matter expert on this topic in the entire world. So… who am I? (Cue the crickets) Not sure where to begin to answer that question? Relax, let’s embark on this journey of self-discovery together. I am sure before all is done, I’ll have all the answers… I joke, I joke. What I have are some questions that will guide us as we answer this existential question.
What are you strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
What motivates you?
What characteristics/traits have people commented on: good or bad?
What are things you will not compromise on or are you non-negotiables?
When people tell others about you, what do you want them to say first?
So after you answer the questions, then what? What if you still don’t feel that the answers fully capture who you are? Or more importantly, what if you don’t like what you found out about yourself? Well, that is it. Change is not possible. All is lost. You should probably crawl under the covers with your family sized bag of chips to never emerge again… OR you can choose today to redefine who you are from this point forward; who you are; and what you want to be known for. Depending on what your reflection showed you , this may require more work for some than others. But the bottom line, you can redefine who you are, regardless of your age and past. Enter warning here. If you choose values and traits that are not authentic to you, who you are will not change and people will see through your efforts.
As a personal example, my self-reflection identified that though I was caring and would do anything for those I cared about, I learned that people perceived me as abrasive and a mean girl; thereby overshadowing who I truly was. My rebuttal to feedback that I was abrasive had always been that I was not that, I was just direct; which tends to be uncomfortable to most people (especially Southerners). But I decided to accept the feedback and begin doing the work to change the perception of who I was to ensure that it matched with who I knew myself to be. When I started to actually do the work, I realized that in my directness, I WAS abrasive and could be honest with myself and see how I could be perceived as abrasive. Though, being mean was not my intent, it was happening anyway. So to keep in line with my goals and vision for my future, I had to make a change.
So I decided I wanted to be described as kind. Well, as you can only imagine, that was going to be a bigger undertaking than I could imagine. So… here’s where I tell you that I am kind now and all of my hard work paid off. The end… Cue laughter. Yeah no. I work at it every day though. If you read my post about thought bubbles, you will see it is something that I consciously work on every day. Now I ask myself if something I’m going to say is kind, necessary, and true. That test used to include whether it was funny. And boy, if the answer was yes it was funny, that would trump the rest of the test. I was going to say that thing regardless. Thankfully, I have dropped that prong from the test. Anyway, I also monitor my delivery. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you say but how you say it. And because my face is super expressive, I have to monitor/manage my facial expressions as well. So today, the person I am is kinder, yet direct. Do I still get perceived as abrasive at times? Sure. But I am also so self-aware that I am usually apologizing for my directness immediately after speaking or I am able to revise my I am saying while speaking. Though I am not described as kind 100% of the time, it is a descriptor used when describing me to others and I will keep working on it.
Taking all this introspection one step further, I realized that who I am at my core, is authentic. To me this means that I allow myself room to grow… daily. It means that I understand that at the foundation of me, is a person who wants to be the best version of herself at all times. I am a person who would do anything for her family and friends (except let them move in with me); is a hard worker; is forward thinking; is in love with words; and avoids anything that would steal my peace. She is a contradiction at times. She reflects on things but also acts with haste at times. She doesn’t want to see anyone she cares about suffering especially due to something she did or said. Most importantly, she is accepting of the fact that she is perfectly imperfect and a delicious work in progress.
Who I am today should be a better version of who I was yesterday. With the precious gift that is a new day, we should be able to answer the question, who am I, with the following words… I am perfectly imperfectly me, but you should check me out tomorrow.
The final word… Visualize your highest self and start showing up as that person.