Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Ever asked a kid who they are? Aside from the standard response of their name, you will also get a variety of responses being “My name is (insert name here) and...

“I can tie my shoes!”

“I can go pee-pee on the potty!”

“I have Spiderman shoes!”

“I am a cub scout!”

“I am four years old!”

Ask a teen to young adult and the response also expands beyond the name.

“Oh that is Brittany, she is a cheerleader!”

“My name is Doug, I am captain of the football team!”

“That is Jill, she is valedictorian!”

“Yeah, I think I have heard of him, he goes to Ohio State.”

“Doesn’t she own the blue Mercedes?”

As Adults:

“Wow, you are having lunch with him? Isn’t he the bank president?”

“That’s Darlene. She has twins and is married to the famous baseball player.”

“Don’t you know who I am, I could own you!!”

“How can I go to jail? It will ruin my reputation!”

“They are nothing. They don’t even have a full membership to the club.”

As we age:

“That is my son. He is the City commissioner.”

“I am the ex-CEO of such-and-such industries.”

“I am grandpa to seven wonderful kids.”

I guess I reflect upon this as I pondered for a moment on asking myself: “Who am I?”

I often times find myself trying to make this personal reconciliation when something changes in my life. At times it is also when I am trying to become okay with the fact of where I may presently be in my own personal timeline. Maybe I should be somewhere else. Maybe someONE else. Is what I am doing a good testimony to who I am supposed to be? My identity. What is this thing called identity anyhow? Why is it our name, our identity has to have some sort of subscript attached to it?

As I started to dig a bit deeper, I started to realize that for me to get to the bottom of my query I had to do a couple things. One was to separate my circumstances from what I call my identity. I quickly learned that I am not what my circumstances dictate. The most hurtful thing we can do is to attach our circumstances to a personal opinion of ourselves. Often these labels occur in crises such as financial difficulty, relationship squabbles, affliction and addiction, loss of property, separation from groups or people we care for.

In the past I would attach a negative label upon myself due to the addition or subtraction of one of the above mention categories. Who I am, the me deep inside does not have to change because of an endeavor, poor choice, good choice, or circumstance I found myself in. Bad circumstances do not make me a bad person any more than going to a football game makes me a quarterback.

So it stands, I am not what I do.

I also realize that things can come and go. In these recent economic times, many have been humbled by the realization that nothing, especially toys and money last forever. Sometimes one of life’s best lessons can be to lose some-things we worship. I realize that if I used to drive a Mercedes, and now drive a Chevy compact, I am no less a person. Should one think this to the contrary, explain to me how you may justify one’s “human stock” dropping after a hurricane because their belongings are destroyed. It doesn’t. Often their best assets surface.

I am not what I have.

I have time on my hands. I write a lot. I also get time to play. I do not have the time to try to manipulate nor adapt to what others think of me. I can live the life I believe I am supposed to. I can try to live on the greater side of good. I seek compassion and connection. If you don’t find any favor in that. So be it. I don’t have time to try to make you like me. Does my worth really grow if you do? I would rather be alone for the right reasons, than famous for the wrong ones.

I am not what others think of me.

In deep contemplation of “who I am”, I find it hard to explain. The moment I try to explain it, I label myself. Am I a Dad, husband, business owner, swell guy, martial artist, reiki practitioner, and foodie? Yes– by activity or practice, but it is who I am inside that allows me to connect to those things collectively. Who I am makes me seek them out, or try to be the best at those things, and yet, if those things change, who I am necessarily may not.

I find “who I am” is found in the space between. My identity goes beyond my name which was given to me without my consent (not that I dislike it). My identity is not tainted by opinions including my own. It is the music without sound and the light yet without luminescence. It is ethereal, nebulous, and spiritual. It is the part of me that doesn’t need a compass to know where my true North is.

Who I am is the part of me that I would be with no one around. It is the part of me who I would want to share with my most cherished loved ones. It is the me I long for, when who I “think” I am or should be is most present in the room. It is who I know I want to be. It is who I am okay with.

The “I” I seek is where I find peace. It is where I know. Where things seem correct. Struggle stops. No outside appreciation is necessary. It is from that peace and awareness I become most radiant, and therefore I end up becoming what my ego most often wanted me to become, just now with the substance to back it, but the humility to not need the adoration. I am a sum of my experiences. I am the recipe of myself that has no ingredients. Empty yet full.

I guess what I have found is that no matter the onslaught, and inversely the joys, I am still the same being. I am I.

I am not a title, hood ornament, number on a W-2, position, label on clothing, your opinion or mine, I am who I am supposed to be, and for once I really, really feel okay with that. No matter what I gain – I am the same guy. No matter what I lose – I am the same guy. If you love me – I am the same guy. If you hate me – I don’t care.

If you ask me who I am, my name is Tony. My identity is not my name and the labels past and present that may be pinned to it. Who I am is somewhere inside, protected and flourishing. I hope the real “me” gets to meet the real “you” someday.

The name will have to do for now...
Repost from Artisan of the Human Spirit


Cynthia Pittmann said...

So true, Tony, we are not our names, jobs, connections or family. And yet, to live (and act)in the world is to live within these identity constructs. We are not our roles, who we know, or even our race and nationality, and still if we are to move toward our best version of society and people, we have to act from some framework- even if we don't believe in the "identity". Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your deep reflection on the "Who am I" question.

Lynne Walker said...

Thanks for sharing about this topic and giving me some good food for thought!

awitchtrying said...

Thank you so much for this post! I really needed to read this today and may re-read it again later. I've been struggling with depression lately and I find that often comes from mis-labeling or even labeling myself at all. If I am overwhelmed, I deem myself incapable. If I am grumpy, I call myself bitch. If I am worn-out, I think I'm lazy. Even though I KNOW none of these are true to who I am. We all have so many necessary parts but none of those is who we are.
Thank you for reminding me about my own truth. You're so right about the need for us to let-go the habit of trying to define ourselves. That only imposes limitations. If we could learn to allow ourselves to be, and let that be our change in the world, wow! What a revolution!

Myrna R. said...

Thank you Tony. Your posts are so insightful and well written. So, even though I don't know you - yes, your essence, who you are is obviously beautiful.

Blogger said...

eToro is the ultimate forex trading platform for newbie and pro traders.