Know Thyself

At some point in our life, most of us contemplate who we are. I have often asked myself, especially in recent years, “Who am I?”. I have found that in order to conclude who I am, it is best to begin with the question, “Who am I NOT?”.

I am not my weight. I am not the size I wear. I am not the color of my hair. I am not the curly hair, or straight hair, or short hair or long hair or no hair. I am not the wrinkles on my face. I am not the fine hair on my upper lip. I am not the whiskers of middle age on my chin. I am not my brows, however thinning or well-drawn. I am not the cellulite on my thighs. I am not the stretch marks on my stomach. I am not my height. I am not the length of my nails. I am not the size of my breasts. I am not real boobs or fake boobs. I am not my skin color. I am not the straightness of my teeth or the broadness of my smile. I am not my past stitches or surgeries. I am not my scars. I am not my internal injuries. I am not my diagnosis. I am not my disease. I am not my posture. I am not my physical strength. I am not my muscle definition- or lack thereof.

I am not the brand of clothes I wear. I am not the high end sneakers. I am not the expensive purse. I am not the diamond on my finger. I am not the metal around my neck. I am not the height of my heels. I am not the makeup I wear. I am not the scent I prefer to spray. I am not the colors I clothe myself in. I am not capris or jeggings or boot-cut. I am not the stores I shop at. I am not the gown. I am not the sash. I am not the tiara.

I am not my job title. I am not my job. I am not my career. I am not my salary. I am not my bank account. I am not my retirement. I am not my investments. I am not my education. I am not my diploma. I am not the band member, sports player, art lover, theater performer, math enthusiast, teacher or administrator. I am not my credits. I am not my degree. I am not my university. I am not my alma mater. I am not the letters after my name. I am not the prefix before my name. I am not my instrument. I am not my sport. I am not my team. I am not my winning district. I am not my state championship.

I am not the car I drive.  I am not the house I live in. I am not my neighborhood. I am not my city or my state or my region. I am not the country I reside in. I am not the culture. I am not my ancestors. I am not my lineage. I am not my history. I am not my language. I am not my second language. I am not my mother, my father, my sisters, my brother. I am not my family. I am not my childhood. I am not the role of mother. I am not the role of wife. I am not how many kids I have. I am not how many kids I do not have. I am not where my child goes to school. I am not what my child does for a living. I am not my child’s choices.

I am not my friends. I am not my relationships. I am not my religion. I am not the church I attend. I am not my political affiliation. I am not who I vote for. I am not my sexual orientation. I am not my gender. I am not my sexual partners. I am not the person who was hurt. I am not the person who hurt me. I am not a victim. I am not a martyr. I am not a savior. I am not my trauma. I am not my abuse. I am not less than or better.

I am not what I drink. I am not what I eat. I am not my addiction. I am not my affliction. I am not the music I listen to. I am not the movies I love. I am not what I binge watch on Netflix. I am not the books I read. I am not the news station I select. I am not my favorite podcast. I am not the savviness of social media. I am not my hashtag. I am not an amount of “likes”. I am not the quantity of followers. I am not who approves or disapproves. I am not my circumstances. I am not my past or current choices.

Throughout our lives, there are so many ways we choose to attach to something we think we are. We identify with a topic or title, or we have been told we are a specific label. Today we live in a world where identification with surface level names sparks extreme emotions and often results in damaging outcomes. At the very least, unproductive. We are so quick to cling to our labels (usually unconsciously) and are willing to demean and harm others in order to maintain that box we chose to put ourselves in. Most people never even question why they are in that box in the first place. What would happen if every one of us stepped back and asked ourselves, “Why does this upset me so much?”… “Why do I believe what I do?”… “Why is it important for me to be a _____ or a _______ or a ________?” … “What would happen if I didn’t accept those labels?” …. “Who would I be WITHOUT those labels?”.

What do you identify with? What triggers emotional responses within you? Why? What labels do you claim for yourself? What would happen if you no longer attached to those labels?

Know Thyself. Not who thought you were, think you are, were raised to be, were told to be. Who YOU are beneath the names, titles, labels. Go deeper. Transcend the surface level. Explore the greater depths of your soul. Who YOU are- the presence that arrived on the planet. The part of you that knows a peace beyond all understanding. At that place is the greatest answer to “Who am I?”: I AM. And “I AM” is sufficient.