In a world often consumed by labels, roles, and societal expectations, it’s good to take a step back and ask ourselves a fundamental question: “Who am I?” It will guide us on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. I recently had the opportunity to explore this question while teaching a wellness coaching class that delved into the concept of the Layers of Life—a holistic approach to well-being encompassing the mind, body, and spirit.
My journey into self-discovery goes back to my early childhood, where I was exposed to the musings of my paternal grandfather—a natural philosopher trapped in the world of fixing tube television sets, radio transistors, and amplifiers. His constant refrain of “I think, therefore I am” left a lasting impression on my young mind. Although I may have initially misinterpreted his words as a child, it was during those moments of contemplation that I began to form my own understanding of identity. I sing, therefore I am, I’d say to my friends, half-jokingly and half-seriously – feeding my attachment to singing, and avoiding knowing who I was without it.
Change is the catalyst for personal growth.
Back to my wellness coaching class, where we discussed the concept of change as the catalyst for personal growth.
Change often involves shedding old habits, beliefs, or even identities, and it all starts with a decision—an internal shift towards something new. However, to begin this transformative journey, we must first cultivate self-awareness.
Cultivating self-awareness and opening ourselves to change is challenging and often painful – that’s why often we hear Ignorance is bliss. And that’s why many people would rather stay in the old identity, habit, or belief than go through the pain of the metamorphosis.
However, self-awareness serves as the compass that points us toward the aspects of ourselves we wish to change and the parts we need to release. It’s in this process that we begin to grasp a fundamental truth: in the process, we don’t lose who we are, we become more of who we are created to be.
Letting go of certain aspects of ourselves doesn’t diminish who we are or take away from us, but rather paves the way for us to expand into our best and most whole selves.
As we delve deeper into self-awareness, we come to realize that we are not merely our physical bodies. Our bodies are the vessels through which we experience life as human beings. We are not our thoughts and feelings either; instead, we are the thinkers of our thoughts and the feelers of our emotions. Our minds are not the masters; we are the ones who hold the reins. Our true essence resides in something that science struggles to identify—often referred to as the soul, spirit, conscience, or our essential, true self.
Once we start living from this essential self, the roles we play, the beliefs we hold, and the habits we maintain no longer define us entirely. Yes, I may be a mother, but motherhood is just one facet of who I am. Similarly, I’m a singer and an artist, but I’m not solely defined by these roles. In the past, I believed that if I didn’t sing for two weeks, I’d wither away. However, this perception crumbled, leading to a breakthrough when I realized that my identity was not confined to these external expressions.
We are not solely defined by our roles and what we do.
That same day, I sat with my son Blais after dinner, and we talked. He is starting college next week and he pondered how to navigate the pressure of choosing a lifelong path and the fear of falling short of expectations. In response, I asked him about his “why”—the inner motivation, the spark that ignites passion.
Blais explained that his spark was the joy he felt when he did something he loved and witnessed the smiles it brought to others’ faces. I reminded him that, as he embarked on his college journey, nurturing that spark was what’s most important. The “what” and “how” would reveal themselves; the spark would lead the way.
The spark ignites passion and leads our way. It stays with us through the different roles we fill and the different work we do.
That spark is what makes us feel alive, guiding us toward activities and roles that allow us to fulfill our Purpose—with a capital ‘P’—to carry love, light, and life into the world, and our unique purpose—with a small ‘p’—whether that’s through art, healing, nurturing, or any other path that resonates with our innermost being.
Get quiet and ask your heart: Who am I?
I invite you to ponder the question, “Who am I?” Recall those moments in your life when your spark blazed brightly—whether it was yesterday or years ago. The spark knows no timeline; it can manifest at any moment. It’s the key to unveiling your true self and embarking on a journey of self-discovery, purpose, and fulfillment.