(Estimated reading time 3 minutes)
Twice in the past few weeks, I’ve been asked to think about the question “Who am I?” The first time, I decided the inquiry was too vast and complicated. Not knowing where to start, I set it aside. Yesterday when the same question came up, I decided it was time to give it some thought. I grabbed my notebook, a pen and started brainstorming. Actually, it was less of a brainstorm and more like a brain-trickle. It’s a tough question. Who am I?
Am I the sum of my roles? Do my accomplishments form the foundation of me? Does what I value encapsulate who I am? My actions? Perhaps it’s a list of my characteristics. As I started to make a list of my characteristics, I noticed something interesting. I made a whole list of admirable qualities, but right alongside them, I had a lot of not so admirable ones. I could list all kinds of opposites depending on the part of my life I was thinking about – I am strong in some areas but weak in others, I am sometimes giving but also greedy, both kind and unkind, hard-working and lazy … you get the picture. It was clear to me that I (and perhaps all of us) have the capacity for anything, both positive and negative, given the right (or wrong) set of circumstances.
This thought reminded me of something I read some time ago – a legend of unknown origin. A boy, wrestling with internal conflict, turned to his grandfather. He explained that two wolves were fighting inside him. One was darkness and despair, the other was light and hope. Afraid and uncertain of his future he asked his grandfather which wolf would win the internal battle, to which the grandfather replied, “the one you feed.”
Am I nurturing the parts of myself that I want to grow? Perhaps the question is not only “who am I”, but also “who do I want to be?” I’m still thinking about the question, but part of what I’ve realized is this: If we accept our capacity for darkness, then we can also celebrate with abandon the steps, even the small ones, we take towards the light.
I’m a writer and coach, who is passionate about helping ordinary people move beyond what is holding them back so that they can live extraordinary lives. You can connect with me here or learn more about coaching with me.