Who Are You Really?
This reaction led me to ponder, who are we really? Are we but a name we didn’t even chose for ourselves? A name given to us by our parents, or in my daughter’s case, by an orphanage and a foster mother who obviously thought “gardenia” suited her. (The name Zhi in Cantonese means gardenia, which so eloquently sums up my daughter’s grace) A name we change and then what? Are we suddenly somebody else? Tong MinZhi is the same girl as Scarlett Zhi Fatz, that picture verifies that fact. So our name really means nothing about who we really are.
Who we are is actually quite simple, it is who we were meant to be. We just complicate it by allowing our ego to rule or by being overly influenced by outside forces such as what others expect or think of us. We allow roles we play such as mother, wife, daughter, son or husband to narrow our definition. Reduce ourselves to a professional title we have earned or a career we have chosen. In actuality, none of these things define who we are and there are serious consequences to attaching ourselves to these roles. During your life, your roles will change. Your kids will move away. You may lose your job, get divorced or your spouse will die. Then what? You are lost.
Several months back, I sold my long-time local fitness business to venture out and launch my own brand worldwide. It was (and still is) scary as hell. But why? Because of ego. Inside my facility and in my local community, I earned a high level of respect. These people know my background. They know I am not merely some trainer or a lady in her 40’s who looks pretty darn good and motivates people. My years of education, dedication to learning, relentless hard-work and discipline have earned me that respect. But that ends there.
Online, gathering a new and broader audience, I am just some lady in her 40’s who looks pretty good and motivates people. Nobody “out there” has any idea what I really do and the lives I have helped change. I get asked daily now, “so what do you do?” “Are you a fitness model, a trainer, a nutritionist, a writer?” That is tough to swallow.
My ego wants to say, “do you people have any idea how talented and powerful of a leader I am!” But instead of defining myself by the work I’ve done or the role I have played up until this point, I am choosing to just be who I am meant to be. You see, if I allowed my ego to prove to the world who I am, they wouldn’t be able to see the real me. The real me is enough.
Yes, I was an owner of a fitness coaching business but that was merely a title. I am still an athlete, a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a speaker and a writer. But again, those are roles, not the definition of who I am.
Who I am is messy, torn, inquisitive, passionate, driven, sexy, defiant, restless, masculine yet strongly feminine, compassionate yet harsh and relentlessly honest. These are what define me.
Discovering who we are involves messy work. It requires taking action and doing things that make us realize who we aren’t, so we can eventually narrow down who we are. Living consciously is the first step. We have to stop going through the motions in life and remove ourselves from chaos. Embrace silence and start paying close attention to the voice inside our head. Listen to the quiet, underserved voice that ever so gently whispers our deepest dreams and desires; for fear of that even louder voice we have inside, constantly bellowing out all that we are not, is scary and causes hesitation.
We have to remove our limitations imposed by roles and names. Stop allowing our egos to hold us back out of fear of what others may think about us. Start speaking to the things that make us unique and stop hiding our richest talents. You are so much more than what you do or the roles you have taken on in life. Just as my daughter is so much more than a name or a birthplace. Only she gets to figure out who she is meant to be.
You get to make mistakes and change your mind. In fact, becoming authentic requires it. Becoming the person you were meant to be isn’t perfect. You will cause hurt, to both yourself and others. You will fail, be embarrassed, feel judged and overwhelmed. What matters is whether or not you learn from it and move closer to being your authentic self.
When you are allowing yourself to be who you are, the world around you will feel your presence. There will be no mistake that you know who you are and you will not apologize for it. You are exactly who you are supposed to be.
Figure out who you are.