Who Am I? Discovering Your IdentityAug 23, 2021
One of my favorite professors back in university taught us an easy concept to learning something new, which became a valuable life lesson. He described this as an important way to gather up all the important facts based on research work or learning in general. He said, “Whenever you come about a new lesson or concept to learn, make it your aim to be able to answer seven key questions concerning that topic”. It’s called the 5W2H principle. The key questions to ask are Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, and/or How much?
This simple principle has helped me tremendously in my day-to-day routines and when I need to make a decision. In my journey in self-discovery, asking myself these key questions also helped me understand myself even better. Before we get to finding a purpose to live and living it intentionally, we should be able to give ourselves an identity first. Knowing who we are is a journey that requires a deep inlook into one’s life. Self-searching, self-questioning, and self-reflecting on our personalities, emotions, and lifestyle.
Who am I?
This journey of self-discovery begins by asking yourself this question. Who am I? Your name is your title, but your true identity lies beyond that. Who you are lies in what you believe in (your values) and who you choose to become. Your identity is a choice that you make for yourself. People around you and your background may try and label you but what truly matters is who you choose to identify yourself as.
We often take on an identity based around our past (“I’m a dropout”), our abilities (“I’m athletic”), our title (“I’m a parent”), or by what we have or don’t have (“I’m a homeowner”). NONE of these are your identity. You are not your story.
What defines me?
What is important to you? What are your values and needs? What thoughts and feelings do you stand by and are worth protecting? What you believe and fight for is who you are. Acknowledging your interests, your dreams, and ambitions is another crucial step in your journey to self-discovery. Our lives are driven by having a purpose. You cannot have direction in your life if you do not know what exactly you’re aiming for. A self-awareness and self-evaluation process helps select the values that define who you are. Discover hobbies and traditions that stand out to you. In order to learn what makes you happy and gives you a sense of satisfaction, you have to experiment with new activities. You never really know what you're going to like until you give it a shot.
Where am I positioned in life?
There’s a saying that you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. This may be true, but there’s more to it than that. Where you position yourself, the people you allow into your personal space, your coworkers and friends, and the places you choose to hang out all influence who you are or who you’ll become. Being intentional with your environment and filtering these decisions through your values will help you stay true to yourself. Nobody can wrongly influence you if you stay in alignment with your values. Surround yourself with people who encourage your ambitions and goals as well as those who support the lifestyle you are pursuing.
When do I get to where I’m going?
Every goal, ambition or dream needs a time factor set to accomplish it. Where do you see yourself spiritually, intellectually, or financially a week, month, or years from now? That big picture, when you’ve finally achieved those big goals, begins with making small intentional decisions. Making small purposeful acts one after the other, one day at a time. Once you’ve discovered where you want to be in your life, you set a time frame when you want to see yourself there. Knowing yourself, and staying true to yourself allows you to set attainable goals. When the goals are too demanding and time-consuming you might lose yourself to frustration and overwhelm.
One of the important lessons I was taught growing up is how to celebrate the small wins I make in my life. First, I learned to separate my short-term from my long-term goals. Every short-term goal I achieved gave me that drive to keep pursuing all the other goals I had set for myself. It reminded me that I was perfectly capable of attaining what I was setting my mind on. I wasn’t focusing on the self-doubt, what I was missing, or why it was taking long. I focused on what went right and how to make my next step forward. My journey continues, and this lesson proves to have made me a better version of myself.
Why am I alive today?
Why do you wake up every day and do what you do? Why do you push yourself to go to the gym every other day and eat healthy? Why do you keep disciplining yourself to stay on budget? How much are you willing to give to obtain your inner peace and happiness, and to experience the wholeness of who you are? The reason lies in understanding your life’s purpose. A person's deeper WHY in life guides their decisions, shapes their behavior, offers direction and creates meaning. What defines who you are is what you live for, your soulful purpose to life.