Definition of Self

You won't find this one in the dictionary kid

How often do you ask yourself, “What defines me?”.  It’s probably not an everyday topic of conversation, but rather something you ask yourself after doing something regretful.  Honestly, how many times do we challenge ourselves when we are on our best behavior?  Not often.  Instead, experiences that bring out our not so pleasant traits can lead us down this road of self-definition.

Throughout our lives, we become defined by several things: nicknames we are given, activities we participate in, friends we associate with, talents we possess, our job titles, etc.  Sometimes what ends up defining us isn’t something that we decide on consciously.  Instead, we latch on to things that others find amusing or acceptable and present that self-image to the public eye.  This is often done haphazardly and without much thought, which is why the moments that “define” us or force us to redefine ourselves aren’t always the ones we care to remember.  We all have an idea of they type of person we would like to be, however we rarely check in with ourselves to see if that is really the person we are putting out into the world.

So, I am using this forum to not only encourage others to take an honest look at their past, current, and future self definitions, but also to do the same for myself.  Therefore, I will start by retrospectively defining “who” I was at certain times in my life.  Over the past three decades I would say there are a few traits that have consistently defined me.  Growing up I was a creative, smart, active, often silly , outgoing, and compassionate kid.  I like to think that most of those traits help to define me as a good person, and that they have stayed with me over the years.  However, other traits do get sprinkled in as years pass, often as a result of environment, age, and available resources.  Some of these traits we grow out of, after trial and error teaches us that they are better left alone.  For example, as a young girl my creativity was seasoned with a little tomboy.  If I wasn’t in my room drawing, painting, reading or practicing my music, I was outside playing cops and robbers, tramping through our wooded neighborhood and trying to keep up with my older brother and his friends.  The more dirt the better, and I rarely came home unscathed.  This tomboy attitude led me into my fair share of trouble, too.  In the 4th grade I repeatedly stole candy from my teacher’s desk because I thought it was “cool”.  I became so riddled with guilt that I confessed my crime and served my time.  That was an important event in my 9-year-old life, because it taught me about who I DID NOT want to be.  As the teenage years approached, I dropped the tomboy to start chasing boys, while immersing myself in pop culture/music.  I became a boy crazy hip-hop, 90210 loving fiend who tested my parents’ limits by gallivanting through the “bad” part of town and wanting to grow up too quickly.  Late-teen years revealed my party side, which followed me well into my late 20’s.  Partying and drinking to excess seemed like the cool thing to do, and I quickly defined myself as THAT girl, while somehow performing well in school and work.

In all of these “eras” of my life, I maintained fundamental traits that continue to define me in a positive light, while testing out others that I chose to add to or delete from my self-definition.  Experiences, both good and bad, taught me that my actions define me and that they can have either positive or negative effects on the people and the world around me.  While I have no regrets, I do believe it is important that we all check in on our self-definition from time to time.  Look back and see what worked, what didn’t, who we have been and who we would like to be in the future.  Sometimes it is uncomfortable to let go of what has defined us for so long, for fear that our friends and family will somehow love us less.  In actuality, dropping negative traits will bring more love from true family and friends into your life.

My self-definition goal is to maintain and cultivate the positive traits that have stayed with me over time.  By surrounding myself with people who care about me and motivate me to be the best I can be, I know I will continue to reach that goal each and every day.

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August 17, 2010. Tags: , , . Life.

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