Defining one’s self can be an interesting prospect. Quite a few individuals define themselves based on their occupation or career. When someone first meets another person, often the first question which is asked is what the other person does for a living. I think this is why most people begin their definition of self with in light of their job or career. The problem with this starting point for a definition is that if the person retires or becomes unemployed for some reason, their definition of self crumbles a bit.
Another key component of defining who we are is found in relationships. A person may continue his/her definition by stating they are a father, a mother, a sister, a brother, the son, or the daughter of, a wife or a husband. Again, a problem presents itself here if the significant relationship ends due to death or divorce. This does not mean that the role has definitely disappeared but it has at minimum lessened.
For those who do not rely on their employment or familial relationships to be key components of their self defining, a person may choose to use their hometown or where they are now living as a definer. Like the other two components, the issue is that locations in a person’s life change. While not as dramatic as the other two instances, it still can cause a ripple in the definition of self.
There are a great variety other aspects of life which may be used in the definition of self:
- Religious beliefs
- Political affiliations
- Favorite teams
The list can continue indefinitely. Take a moment to look at some social media profiles and you will be amazed at the different components which are found in the profile descriptions people use. I do not want to state that any of these are trivial. Some would even argue that by combining all these varied components that we are able to create a self-definition.
I contend that such an approach is lacking. I understand why that seems to be the default approach of most people. This requires far less effort and time than the approach which I will advocate in a bit. Generally, it also seems to be the safest approach. True, unless some dramatic life event alters these components and the person is left realizing they cannot actually define who they are anymore.
For me, the defining of who I am requires me to take time to do some introspection. I need to look at what are the core elements of my life and my spirit. This causes me to examine what is important to me and why. I have to spend some time determining what I believe to be true and upon what I base those beliefs. I am forced to see how I have been influenced by other people, my context, and my experiences; both the good and the challenging. My dreams, my hopes, and my aspirations must be taken into account.
I would state that this is not a one-time for all time activity. Our definition of self changes over time. I view this as a good reality since it provides an opportunity to redefine ourselves. This requires us to do some self-examination and evaluation at different points in our lives. I think it also takes some pressures off of us since we know that who we define ourselves as today is not permanent. This opens the door to learning, growing and changing which is the definition of life.
I challenge you to take some time to create your self-definition. Creating this definition will require more than an hour or two. You will need to answer some questions which you may never have asked yourself. You may need to struggle with some aspects that you have ignored or have not had an awareness. Although, if you truly put in the effort, I am confident that the reward will be lasting and significant.