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How do I define myself?

I honestly expected that to be an easier question to ask myself. Human beings are not two-dimensional. Particularly not with our personal identity. We have nuance and complexity that makes us a roller coaster ride even to our own experience. On this ride, which peak or dip or twist or turn defines you? How do you even answer this question? Is there an answer?

Personal Identity is the question of if you carry on as the same person day-to-day
Many of us spend most of our lives contemplating who we are

It’s my opinion that people defy definition. That we can’t really be neatly summed up, at least not in our “natural state.” I feel it takes a very conscious exercise of will to decide and commit to who we are in any discrete way. Because of this, I thought to redesign the question so as to offload the weight from me to something else. I am now asking myself “What am I devoted to and will I dedicate my time and attention toward?”

This very different question changes the focus from me as a person to my effort as a measurable vector over time. The question of definition is hard to impossible because of what it actually means. To define implies finality. You draw a hard line with a definition. You simply say “this equals that” and set it in stone.

We are far too dynamic, robust, and obstinate for that. Personal identity is complex enough without shutting down the doors for change. Now, if I asked what I wanted my life to add up to, or where I wanted my presence to settle most, this is a question of desire and follow-through. Not only is it easy to identify, but it’s also easy to verify.

Serious Business

That all being said, I’m still not going to take this question lightly. This is about how I will view myself. Who I want to be and my relationship with that person. My personal identity isn’t just personal, it’s social and communal. I’d like to spend a couple of months very slowly yet deliberately answering the question of where I will place my time. I will ask how I want to be perceived by others, who my audience should be, and what any of this might look like.

I will spend a week outlining the broad idea of what I want my life to revolve around. Then I’ll create a rough strategy to accomplish that the next week. The third week will be spent doing research to validate the strategy. The fourth week I will outline a series of tasks to reach my goals. The month after will involve executing those tasks. My birthday is on July 11th, so that gives me just a little over two months to have designed moved into the lifestyle and career I decide upon.

Designing a Personal Identity

I’m essentially creating a career, brand, and image for myself professionally as well as declaring a cause I will devote myself to personally. This will ripple deep into my family, my finances, and my felicity, so I plan to be extremely thoughtful. Once I’m in I will be making decisions and creating structures and barriers to lock me into my decision. This has always been the way I try to operate, that way I only need to make big decisions once.

How do you define yourself? What do you devote yourself to? Have you ever asked yourself these questions? If you have, how did you determine the answers? Please share and let me know. I can use all the feedback I can get right now. It’s no small task to intentionally design one’s own life. I wouldn’t want to do it all on my own.

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Roxanne Torre
Roxanne Torre
4 years ago

I’ve identified myself as a daughter first and foremost (order of operations) , an administrative assistant, a survivor of corporate slavery, a writer, a wildlife rescuer a ‘sick person’ and so many other things that seemed to define me at the time. What I have learned as I have lived is that there is always an unknown variable that kickstarts something new inside of you. Clinging to an old paradigm never gave me personal satisfaction. Except one constant that I have adopted in last decade or so I cling to this: I am enough just the way that I am.… Read more »


[…] I am writing this, I have no idea who I am. That is, I know how to identify myself by name, face, occupation, and a litany of government […]