Many people have been heard to say that they have to “find out who I am.” For some it can be quite a chore, perhaps because they have been raised with confusion and abuse. Whatever the reason that these folk do not know who they are, at whatever age, they need to discover it so that life can be enjoyable, successful, productive and fulfilling.
Perhaps you are one of the people who are a molded copy of what your parents wanted you to be. They may have told you what you like, what you should do in terms of career, when and how you should do it. If so, there comes a time when your internal desires and your God-given gifts sneak out in one way or another, creating conflict with what and who you have been told you should be. In my situation, my mother was a nurse, and somehow it was a foregone conclusion that this is what I should become. I bought into it fully, took nurses training, graduated and became the nurse they were proud of. It was when I was about thirty-five, that I had become frustrated with nursing, because nursing had changed. No longer was it allowed for nurses to have bedside conversations and do emotional care-giving along with the necessary treatments. Back rubs went out of style, and so did bed baths, unless a patient was critically ill. My love for my profession diminished to the point when I left it and returned to school for degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling Psychology. I had found my niche and my life!
Of course, asking someone who they are often creates dismay. “I am a child of God, I am British, I am Latin American, I am a Republican, I am a listener, I am a teacher, I am a doctor,” are some of the answers to the question asked. However, are these answers really who you are, or are they descriptions of your faith, your heritage or your profession?
The period of time between the onset of the teenage years and the age of eighteen, is the period which Erickson entitled Identity. It is the time during which children and adolescents determine what they are like, what their abilities and inabilities are, what their leaning are toward profession, what their relationship is, or should be, with God; in short, what their likes and dislikes are and where they are headed career-wise. Other important decisions, such as gender identity, are usually formulated during this time period.
Recently, the Winter Olympics involved young people in their teens. A fifteen year old girl took the gold medal in Figure Skating. Other teens were expert skiers and snow-boarders. Had they decided that skating or some other sport was “who they are or just what they enjoy doing? Who was directing or pushing them in the direction of being a sports enthusiast? Looking at one person in particular, namely Scott Hamilton, the long-time figure skater: This man has survived testicular cancer and four brain tumors and currently has a fifth tumor. Scott keeps coming back to the thing he loved and to the sport he considered as defining him. Sheer determination, I would say, and also the demonstration of what had become his identity.
So, who are you? Have you really thought about?
– Your character – the sum total of your thoughts and feelings. Do you tend to be attached to friends and family, or do you distance? Are you generally kind to others, or are you snarky? Do you prefer facts over feelings?
– Your career – Is it the thing you look forward to doing when you open your eyes each morning, or do you dread getting out of bed and going to work?
– Your relationships – Are friends and family important to you, and do you reach out to them on a regular basis?
– Your faith – Is God “pie in the sky” or non-existent to you or do you have a vital faith, relying on God’s word for your life’s path?
– Are you super-sensitive to the treatment by others toward you? Are you concerned for the feelings of others?
– Do you keep more to yourself and spend your life in a routine of organizing and calculating?
It’s wise to do a self-analysis, as it will benefit every area of you life. If you don’t know how to do so, consider doing the MindPrint Inventory. It will answer many questions about your God-given self, and no doubt bring you great peace in the long run. It’s definitely worth the cost and the effort. And, the next time someone asks you “who are you” you can answer accurately and intelligently, and you will have a better sense of how you can contribute to society as a whole.