Who Are You?

“The bulk of life is discovering who you are—and then reconciling that with who you wish you were.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich

Who are you, really? Are you the person your mind believes you are or the one that other people see? Are they the same or very different?

Many people live their lives attempting to create an identity, focusing on who they want to be but never getting around to discovering who they really are. Sound too deep? It really isn’t.

If we believe the concept of people being, to a large degree, a product of their environment then it’s probably fair to say, taking it a step further, that we become what we think, since our minds are our “inner” environment.

Or do we discard what our minds tell us and become what other people think we should be?

I guess there are two questions here and each may or may not be mutually exclusive to the other. The first is, do we live for others instead of for ourselves in spite of what we believe to be true? Thats a tough way to live for any extended period of time because of the constant struggle that may go on inside the individual.
Secondly, do we convince ourselves, over a period of time, that we are someone we’re not in order to hide the inner disappointment that may ride along with that knowledge? People sometimes embellish stories to the point that they eventually end up believing their own words, even though others who might have been there, know that it’s not true. People may believe they are invaluable to a cause, organization, team, etc, only to find they are expendable and/or replaceable. What we believe about ourselves, the regard in which we hold our contributions or lives may be very different than the perception that others have of us.

The only way to avoid each of those scenarios is to say true to yourself. Easier said than done, since outside influences/pressures may lead you in other directions. But staying true to yourself is much easier than one day coming to the realization that you are not who or where you wanted to be, that you are expendable, that your own self worth is not as valuable to others as it should be to you, and that the very core of your life and the honesty you should trust, has always been part of who you were meant to be.

You’ll never know who you are unless you shed who you pretend to be.
Vironika Tugaleva

 

55 thoughts on “Who Are You?

  1. Almost Iowa

    I think we tend to be less malleable as we age. In that sense, we become who we are by growing up. Still…..one of the great lines that I heard from the cops was, “you are who you hang with.” It often explains the shock that parents experience when they learn that their precious child..(fill in the blank)

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  2. Jodi

    Such good stuff to ponder. I think we all do a little of each, but the older we get (at least me) – it’s easier to just be me – and be ok with it! 🙂 If only we could teach our 13 year old children this – but their brains aren’t developed logically enough to comprehend, so most all of us have to struggle through. I guess an age old question and issue for the ages. Sometimes we are something different at work and at home. I’ll never forget when my boss told me several years ago something he admired about me was that I could talk comfortably to the CEO of a company or the garbage man, and I treated them both with the same respect. I found that to be a great compliment and always remembered it so I would make sure I continue to be that way. I grew up in a house where my mom strived to put on pretenses and she is also one who has created lies that have become truths to her. Sad. Shheeesh! I guess that was a little mini therapy session for me today George! LOL! I always enjoy your posts.

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    1. George Post author

      Lol…mini therapy sessions are always a good thing. That compliment your boss paid to you does not surprise me at all, Jodi. I can see that very clearly and it is a great compliment.
      If we can only reach our 13, 23 or 33 year old children this lesson.
      Yore right…age is a great teacher.

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  3. Helen Devries

    One point my father used to make is that no one is irreplaceable in the world of work…they are irreplaceable only to people who love them, so make your life round the people you love: take them as you are and let yourself be who you are.

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  4. Osyth

    An old flame who became one of my very best friends worked tirelessly to get me to admit that I wore a mask, helped me in the process of shedding it (painful, really really painful) and cried when I first really stepped out into the light. I was terrified of me. Terrified of what I have no idea but once I met me full on and realised that I could not only like but love me (warts, big hairy warts and all) my life took off not in terms of riches or success but in terms of content which it turns out is the greatest gift one can give oneself and by default those we love and those we come into contact with.

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      1. Osyth

        I was fortunate to find my friend. He was not ‘the one’ for me and yet loved me enough to want to heal the girl who had retreated into a place where it was much easier to don a false identity to cope with life. I hated him as much as loved him in that period. The nice thing is that when the suit and mask were finally consigned to the bonfire, any anger went with them.

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  5. Kate Crimmins

    I worried about this more when I was younger. Maybe age has something to do with it or maybe you care less or have accepted that you can’t be what you always thought you were. I’ve been at many events only to hear them described in a way that I didn’t recognize.

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  6. Lynn

    What a thought provoking piece George. I am not sure at what point we become more comfortable with who we are & not worry so much about what other people think or living up to another person’s expectations, but I do think as we age, we seem to do a better job of listening to ourselves in regards to who we want to be.

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  7. Edmark M. Law

    My parents are very good to me. They have never pressured me to do something that I don’t want unlike my other relatives and other people. They said to me to choose my own path and they’ll always be there to support me if I need any guidance.

    Others have criticized me for my career choices since they thought that I’m wasting my time and talent. They would tell me to study medicine or law. But I didn’t listen and studied mathematics. They even told me to study engineering if I like math since engineers earn a lot.

    They thought that I’m an idiot but I didn’t care. And they were further outraged when I still continued doing magic after I graduated and not find a “decent” job.

    Perhaps, they were right that I’m just wasting my time and I could have been a rich man today if I just made smarter career choices, but I’m sure that I wouldn’t be as happy as today.

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      1. Edmark M. Law

        Many people here equate happiness with wealth though I find it hard to believe this kind of mindset.

        Despite being one of the riches cities in the world, people in HK are always not content. And you will never find happiness if you can’t find contentment.

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  8. Val Boyko

    Thanks for this post George. I agree that it becomes easier to be authentic as we age … yet what a powerful lesson for young people to learn and embrace. I shared inspiring words from Mark Nepo yesterday on a similar theme.

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  9. Retirementallychallenged.com

    Another thought-provoking post! Like most commenters, I think we – if we are lucky – throw off our masks as we age. Who knows what is completely authentic, but I’m aware that I care less and less what others think of me. As most of us who have retired realize, we are expendable… my former company is getting along just fine without me (although I don’t agree with all the decisions the person who replaced me has made 🙂 ).

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  10. Ann Coleman

    I think as we age we do learn who we really are and become more comfortable with showing others are true selves. First, we have to actually discover our identity, and that’s not always easy. As you say, we tend to believe what others tell us we are (especially when we are very young) and who we tell ourselves we are. Getting at the core of our beings can be intimidating, because it’s not all pretty. But I think that once we can start allowing our true nature to emerge, warts and all, we can find a peace that allows us to be much more accepting of who others are as well. And that’s a liberating thing! Too bad most of us have to reach the wrong side of 50 before we figure this stuff out….

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    1. George Post author

      I wonder why that is. Ann. We certainly learn from age and experience but I wonder why our younger, intelligent selves have such a difficult time understanding who we are, what we want and being brave enough to let others know that part of us. One would think this simple concept would be easy enough to understand at any age. I guess we’re just too influenced by others when were younger and always chasing something that may not make the lost sense for us. I don’t know. What I do know is we can discuss this for hours..:)

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      1. Ann Coleman

        We certainly could! My guess would be that when we are young, we are still chasing dreams that may or may not be the right ones for us. We tend to want what we think we should want, and tend to try to be what we’ve been told we should be. Maybe it’s an inability to realize our true identity until we’ve lived a while longer? Or simply that our brains need to mature (sort of like how teens don’t have impulse control yet.) All I know is I wish I hadn’t wasted quite so much of my time trying to conform!

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      2. George Post author

        I think you’re right…we have a difficult time realizing our true identity. We should start coaching classes for those on them other side of 50..:) We could make a fortune..:)

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  11. Dale

    Another brilliant post, George. Like most of your readers, I totally agree that as we age, we become more comfortable with who we are and need to pretend a lot less. I think it’s just part of the maturing process. Kudos to the young ones who manage to remain steadfast. It is not easy when wanting to belong.

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  12. Sara McDaren

    This was a fun post! It’s a philosophical/psychological/ethical puzzle that I enjoy thinking about.

    I sometimes wonder how all these different facets of me are supposed to fit together into an integrated person – into something that can be easily labeled and boxed up. Then I make myself cuckoo for a little while trying to figure it out and then I remember that too much self-reflection is at least as bad as too little so I give it over and just enjoy myself and become more and more who I really am, without over-thinking it (for awhile).

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  13. Barb Knowles

    i heard someone once say (I swear it wasn’t me) that as we age we get “more so,” If you were impatient, you became more so. If you were sweet, more so. I find this a little troubling. I’m not sure I want to be “more so.”

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  14. aFrankAngle

    This post reminds me of an boss from the past. He believed it is not who one thinks they are, but what others perceive of them. Yes – it was more important to him to have one who others perceive as a good teacher (but isn’t) than to have a good teacher.

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    1. George Post author

      Strange philosophy. What happened when people who perceived someone as a good teacher found out they weren’t very good and their work suffered because of it. Eventually that all comes out in the wash.

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  15. reocochran

    George, I still worry but not about myself, mainly for my children and grandchildren. I hope they will find happy places to be successful in their pursuits. Successful, in this context, is to stay in an area they may contribute and grow.
    Money isn’t the “goal,” I don’t think. Finding one’s path is a challenge. I do think it is okay to try new things while young! Just to make sure you find a job or occupation which will satisfy and help you thrive! 🙂

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  16. reocochran

    That’s a great summary, George!
    It is what happens on your journey that makes life interesting. If you achieve and save for your future, this makes life more comfortable. Also, money allows sharing more with family and giving to charities. 🙂

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  17. roughwighting

    As I watch my young grandchildren, I think of what you write about here. I remember so clearly how difficult it was when I was young to figure out ‘who I was.’ I didn’t ‘get’ the outside world – inside, I felt so removed from it all. I physically and mentally had to make myself enter the world, the culture, the environment, to fit in. So am I now more ‘myself’? I certainly feel that age helps one define himself/herself, but those early years begin it all. I want to explain this all to the young grands, but they have to figure it out themselves, I believe. Great post.

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    1. George Post author

      It’s difficult having all this knowledge and knowing the ones you love most will have to go through the same process we did and there’s not much we can do about it. But maybe we can influence their thoughts and decisions a bit, if they choose to listen..:)
      Thank you for your thoughts.

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  18. candidkay

    Wise words. They bring to mind Brene Brown’s books on vulnerability. I was never happier than when I told my ego to go to hell and left the corporate world to write and be with my kids. It was tough–b/c my identity had been career. But it was such a good thing for my soul. No regrets there:). Thanks for making us all think a bit tonight . . .

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  19. kidsandlifeafter40

    Great post George! Complicated, but a great analogy. In my case I broken up myself in to the roles I play in life, Mother, Wife, Sister, Friend, and have somehow left out Self. You gave some great things to ponder and help anybody who needs to start shedding those ideologies of who we should be and who we wanted to be and why are are not making any headway in our discovery process.

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  20. Kim Gorman

    Very interesting and thought-proving post, George. I don’t know the answer. While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that for me, whenever I find myself in a situation or environment in which I feel I can’t be myself, it utterly drains me. I think being able to be oneself is a gift that leaves one energized and feeling alive, happy, and whole. Otherwise, it is misery and easy to feel a fraud. I think the best thing is to be around people and environments that allow us to be ourselves, and appreciate our true self, and avoid people and situations that don’t.

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    1. George Post author

      I think you’re absolutely right Kim. Surrounding ourselves with those who provide us that kind of freedom and happiness is critical to the positive nature of our lives. Easily said but not always easily accomplished..:)

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