By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor
Who are you?
Three words; so simple to read, so difficult to understand. People spend decades trying to respond to this question before they eventually realize that it’s unanswerable—who we are is always changing.
So we come up with a stopgap. We describe ourselves as mothers, daughters, employees, spouses, caretakers, etc., answering the question of who we are by pointing to the most prominent role we play at any given point in time.
This way of thinking—while convenient—has its drawbacks. It doesn’t take long to feel pigeon-holed, trapped within the narrow confines of the very definitions we helped create.
“People are fluid,” says Janice Taylor, author, columnist and life coach for Virtual Shoulder.com, and we need to start seeing ourselves that way. “We are not defined by one role,” she says, “We think of ourselves as nouns—but we are really verbs. We are beings.”
Beings in motion are stressed
It should be easy for us to see ourselves as verbs. After all, thanks to the full-throttle nature of modern day life, we’re always doing something.
We bounce between dozens of daily tasks: working, driving our kids to soccer practice, making dinner, trying to find to time to go on a date with our spouse or significant other.
And our sense of self is often the first thing that gets sacrificed to the gods of stress and social pressure. “Society tells you what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to feel,” Taylor says, “But you need to tell yourself that it’s okay to have fun and be true to who you are.”
Portrait of a whole person
You can’t be true to yourself until you know who that self is. Which brings us back to that original, eternal question: Who are you?