I’m not being aggressive and challenging you, “Who do you think you are?”. And I’m not stealing the idea from the TV and trying to find out who your great great grandmother was or whether she was the illegitimate offspring of Queen Victoria.
A question I was asked more than once during counselling sessions, and one I’ve asked myself a few times: Who is Nick? It seems like a bit of a strange question but one we should be able to easily answer. However, it is one I’ve struggled with everytime I’ve been asked. How do we actually describe ourselves and does that description define who we are.
When I worked in insurance it seemed easy, if anyone asked I’d just answer I’m an accident investigator. When I left that role and retrained, I was a plumber. Just over 2 years ago however, I pretty much stopped working as a result of my depression. I couldn’t bring myself to go out and do any jobs and all of a sudden, if anyone asked, I wasn’t sure who I was. I would still tell them I was a plumber but in my mind I didn’t actually know who or what I was. Was I still a plumber, was I a house husband, was I retired or was I something else?
Aside from my own feelings of not knowing, it left me thinking in greater detail about how we describe and define ourselves. If I asked you to tell me who you are, what would your answer be? Would you describe yourself as a mum or dad, student or teacher, lawyer, doctor, pilot, etc, etc, etc. Or are you Fred, Stan, Dawn or Anne? Or are you a combination of many things?
In reality we are all a combination of a great many things, from our relationships, our professions, our friendships, our hobbies. We all have a great many roles that make us who we are yet we so often define ourselves by just our one main role. Is it just for simplicity because it’s too complicated to try and explain it all to someone? Is it because it’s a British societal norm to just give a one word answer? Or, is it because we’ve never really thought about what makes us who we are?
Perhaps most of the time it really doesn’t matter but when our circumstances suddenly change, what then? We might not consider it important to have a particular title but if you stopped doing what you do now and somebody then asked you who do you think you are, would you know how to answer?
For me now, who do I think I am? I’m a husband, home maker, dog walker, Taekwondo coach, very part time plumber, amateur climber, amateur cyclist, amateur skier, sometime diyer, occasional gardener and very amateur blogger, to name but a few things. I’m not just one thing now and I hope that I never will be just one thing again.
So if I ask you now, Who do you think you are? How will you answer?