How Do You Define Yourself?
In a preceding blog, I mentioned that I really struggled with my identity growing up. I think a big part of that was my inability to define myself on my own terms, instead of as the person I thought everyone else wanted me to be. This truly led to a lot of my anxiety. I was so terrified of disappointing my parents and grandparents that I would make myself nauseous prior to exams. In elementary school, I would have full on breakdowns if my homework were not done by 3pm, because I was scared that I would forget to do an assignment.
Back then, I thought how other people saw me defined who I was. Over the past year, I really spent a lot of time exploring who I was and who I wanted to be, and I realized that how other people viewed me and defined me more often than not was very inaccurate. My illness does not define me. My imperfections do not define me. My vulnerabilities do not define me. My past does not define me.
Just because you struggled before does not mean you will struggle again. Just because you made a mistake in the past does not mean you will make it again. Just because something did not work out in the past does not mean nothing else will. We waste so much of our lives stressing out about the past that we allow it to control our future and ultimately define us. My mental health does not define who I am, I was sick not weak. Seeing a therapist does not make me crazy, it makes me committed to my mental wellness. Admitting when I support does not make me vulnerable, it makes me insightful to my needs. Making a mistake does not make me a bad person, it makes me human. I, like many people with anxiety, over attribute one thing to many parts of our lives. We see a mistake, or a flaw and we allow it to control our every thought for years to come. I still get anxiety about a stupid comment I made 10 years ago. Here is the reality: no one who is important wastes time focusing on your past and what they can blame you for, they are focused on your present and where you will be in the future. Stop allowing those people to define you. Define yourself on your terms based on who you are and who you want to be.
Here is what does define you: your goals, your core values, and your future actions.
originally published 5.5.20