I spent a little time people watching in my last blog, thinking about who we are not. I believe we lose focus sometimes and our identity becomes skewed. As we consider those things we are not, we have to also consider who we are.
What you do.
Your actions tell your story, whether that story is what you have always believed yourself to be or not. If you lie, you are a liar. If you are cruel or inconsiderate of the feelings of other people, you are mean or unkind. If you do the things that define love (patience, kindness, keep no record of wrongs, are not easily angered, not only looking out for yourself in your relationships, etc.), you are loving. If you owe money, you are a debtor. If you owe money to people and don’t pay it back at the agreed upon time, you are a thief. If you take something from someone that isn’t yours without asking, you have stolen. If you run, you are a runner. If you fish, you are a fisherman (fisherwoman?). If you paint pictures, you are an artist. If you raise a child, you are a parent. If you use your words, your hands, or your resources against someone because you can or because you want to intimidate them, you are a bully.
The reason you do the things you do, how well you do them, or how often you do them, doesn’t really matter on the most basic level. You are what you do.
The sum of your choices.
Each choice you have made in your life, large and small, has made you are the person you are today. That can be a good thing, a bad thing, or something quite bland. Your choices lead you down the path to your destination. Oh, there are some choices that impact more than others, but all impact in some way. You can always start to make better choices….or worse ones…..and change your course. They will make you become the person you are tomorrow. You are the sum of your choices.
The perception of others.
Yes, I said in my last blog that you are not the opinion of others, but in this crazy life, there is a level where you are what people think you are. I read an article on Facebook recently about a restaurant owner who lost her temper over a misbehaving child in a restaurant. She handled the situation badly by yelling at the young child. The situation was also handled badly by the outraged parents of the child (who had allowed their fussy child to disrupt the meals of the lady’s patrons, which led to her outburst). While I know both parents and restaurant owner are probably much more than the “characters” reported by the media and discussed by the huge number of people who commented on the story, they certainly created a series of perceptions. The restaurant owner may lose customers as a result, the parents may lose some respect of their parenting skills and gain a reputation of thoughtlessness. Those characters will be how most of us (those of us who are either getting our info from an online newspaper article or by seeing only one episode in their lives) always “see” them.
Perception is a powerful thing and should not be discounted. Sometimes what others think about you can matter, truth or not. Often people just see the headlines and will make their judgments on that. But never discount its power or think you are immune from the consequences. You are the perception of others.
Who you are when no one is looking.
Yes, sometimes what others think of you matters but the real you can best be found when you think no one else is around, when you do things that you think no one will ever know. That is when you find your real character. Are you someone whose life is full of undiscovered random acts of kindness, or someone who is more hype than substance? Only you really know the truth. (Unless someone has been peaking….and these days that is a good bet!) You are who you are when you think noone’s looking.
You are what you say…..and what you fail to say.
Our words can be our greatest and most viscious weapon, or the way we bring hope and encouragement to the world. We can either kill or uplift souls with our words.
What you say and how you say it matters. Failing to speak up matters, too. Oh, maybe no one will confront you on that as much, but you know….and those unsaid words can change who you are. Of course, there is a time to speak and a time to be silent, but when we are silent because of lack of courage, that adds to the definition of who we are.
The words you speak, and fail to speak, change the world. You are your words.
What you support….or what you don’t support.
What do you believe in enough to stand up for it? If you say “Nothing” you’re living a dispassionate life. Things change because people fight for them to change. Things stay the same because people fight for them to stay the same. Things change…or don’t change….because people do nothing. What impact do you have on this world? You are what you support….or what you don’t support.
How you work.
No, you aren’t your job, but you are how you perform that job. Do you try to do less, get away with what you can, take money for less work than what is expected or known? Do you crush the souls of the people around you (be they co-workers, customers, your boss or your employees) or brighten their day? Do you look at the results of your work with pride, with shame, or pay no attention to them at all? It doesn’t matter how much you are getting paid, or even if you are getting paid…you are how you work.
How you love.
You say you love someone. Do you define that by a feeling, by words, or your actions? One without the others lacks something special. You can go through the motions, do all these amazing things for them, but you feel flat behind it all. You can say the words to them, or to yourself or others, but nothing you do in your life expresses it. You can treat them as a cherished treasure or as an afterthought.
When is it love? We forget sometimes that feelings are deceptive, that our heart lies to us, and that sometimes for all kinds of reasons our vision will be skewed. Love is the stable force that can hold things together during that time. We expect ourselves to always be in perfect sync with someone, yet forget sometimes we don’t even feel that we are in sync with ourselves. Love is a commitment. It requires communication, patience, and endurance. It is being willing to put in a bit more of yourself if the other person has exhausted their reserves. Funnily enough, those you love don’t have to be perfect. Neither do you. In fact, sometimes perfect is pretty hard to live with…and impossible for all of us to really achieve. So love….and accept it back. You are how you love.
How you live.
Are you using all of the resources that are at your disposal, or just making it through your days? Each morning you are allotted the same amount of time as everyone else. How are you filling it? Are you trying to escape reality, running away from things that are difficult? Are you challenging yourself, trying new things, looking at the world around you in wonder? If you consider each moment a treasure that you get to spend, then are you shopping in the dollar store and buying as much cheap stuff as you can possibly accumulate, or are you investing in treasures? How you spend those minutes of your life is how you are writing your story. You are how you live.
What you worship.
We all worship something….whether you claim to be religious or not. There is a core belief in us all from which all of our decisions are made. The thing that we value the most. Sometimes we worship God. Sometimes we worship gods. Sometimes we worship a pastor. Sometimes we worship the devil. Sometimes we worship an ideology. Sometimes we worship stuff. Sometimes we worship money. Sometimes we worship substances. Sometimes we worship a habit. Sometimes we worship rules. Sometimes we worship a political party. Sometimes we worship a cause. Sometimes we worship our emotions. Sometimes we worship other people. Sometimes we worship ourselves. Whatever it is that drives us from the core, and exudes from our beings, that is our religion. You are what you worship.
Have you thought about how amazing you are? You have all these body parts that work in sync (well, usually), like a well-oiled machine. Oh, maybe a part or two are rusty or broken down, but still you are alive. You have a brain that processes information without any conscious order from you, that has potential you don’t even come close to exhausting. When you think you have done all that you can do, your body amazes you, somehow it pulls out just a bit more from you until you get your second wind. You have a heart that continues to beat in hope and promise, even when it feels very broken. You have hands that can pull someone up from the ground or soothe a fevered brow or hold on to someone else’s hand and lead them out of dark places. You have more lives than a cat, with the ability to change and grow and become someone kinder, wiser, and more useful to the world. You are like no one else and are a delight to the Creator. You are a miracle.
Yes, I love to people watch. I just may be watching you. How are you doing? Are you the person you want to be, living for what you say you most believe in, making your priorities priority? The great thing is that your life is easier to change than you know. And yes, you are able to change, no matter what the naysayers think. Be proud of all you are….and invest in becoming more. You are.