“So what defines you?”
Someone asked me this question today in the context of a getting-to-know-you conversation, skipping right past all of the usual what-do-you-do, where-are-you-from, what-are-your-hobbies kind of questions right to this one. It made me stop and think.
What does define me? I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that before.
Although it seems somewhat related to the what-do-I-have-to-offer-the-world question that I have been struggling with around my encouragement conundrum, I quickly realized that it’s a different question. It’s not about what I have to give (or not give) to other people; it’s about what defines me as a person independent of what I do.
Surprisingly, an answer came quickly: I am a seeker of meaning. That simple line appeared in my head right away, and the more I have thought about it, the more convinced I am that this is accurate. I am always searching for understanding of the meaning of things, relationships, events, people, situations, organizational dynamics, the world around me … and, of course, the big one—the meaning of life itself.
This search for meaning is why I read. It’s why I write. It’s what I am always pondering when I’m absorbed in my own thoughts. It’s what I talk about (directly and indirectly). It’s why I pray. It’s why I do yoga. It’s why I meditate. It’s what consumes me.
I have no idea what to do with this little bit of insight. It doesn’t come any closer to answering the question of what I have to offer the world around me. For all my seeking of meaning and of wisdom, I have no explanations to offer anyone else. I continue to seek meaning because I have not yet captured it.
But I am intrigued by this new definition of myself. It explains so much of what motivates me (and what doesn’t). It will be interesting to see how this definition expands or shifts over time the more I consider this question. In fact, I’ve already expanded it slightly to “a seeker of meaning, hope, and sacred space.” Although, in all honesty, I think I seek sacred space as a doorway into the halls of meaning and hope is the reward I gain from each bit of meaning to elucidate, so it’s still really all about meaning for me. But I like the sound of the three of them together, and that’s enough reason for me to include them all in my new self-definition of the moment.
It’s been a fun exercise today to contemplate this, and I’d like to pass that along to anyone willing to join me. What defines you?
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