Being Who You Are vs. What You Do
I am who I am, not what I achieve. Nothing puts this more front and center in my psyche than being incapacitated. A recent injury and subsequent surgery left me dependent on using crutches to get around. For someone like me, nothing is worse than being immobile. When you are on crutches you literally can’t do anything except get from one place to another. You can’t carry anything so it makes it almost impossible to get things achieved. Mind you, I did my best to improvise: tying a bag to one of my crutches to carry items, transferring dishes between counters in my kitchen to get the dishwasher unloaded, sliding across the floor on one leg to be able to carry a plate. In the end I had to accept that all I could do was sit there and it had to be good enough.
When I was younger I fell into the habit of thinking I was what I achieved. I began to define myself by the grades that I made, how well I did at my job, and whether I achieved goals I set up for myself. Achievement of these goal were my self-worth. I was a doer not a beer. I became unable to just be, be in the moment and enjoy life.
Defining ourselves by what we do rather than who is an easy habit to fall into. Think about when you meet someone new. What are the first questions that you will ask that person: What is your major? What is your job? What do you do?
I had to reprogram my psyche into thinking that I was valuable just as a human being, as a person that existed. One of the best things I can do for myself when I start thinking as a doer rather than a beer is to think about what I value in other people. The first thing that pops into my head is that they are there, they are present. Just by being present they show me that they care. If I apply this to myself I remind myself that I am worthwhile just because I am present.
Woody Allen said “Showing up is eighty percent of life.” Today I try to be just present in my life, to enjoy it and the people in my life. I do set goals for myself. But achievement of these goals doesn’t define who I am. I am a good friend, a good mom, a good wife, a good business woman. I am all these things partially because of what I do but much of because who I am.