I have been doing some interesting, helpful, uncomfortable, eye-opening, inspiring work pulling from different resources and tools available to me. One of the exercises that I have done recently is reflecting on my life experiences and messages that I have received that have impacted my creativity and sense of self. After writing and journaling about many of my life experiences and the implicit or explicit messages that I received, I saw that there are several main themes that emerged. One of these themes is “Who do you think you are?”
Here are a few of the “Who do you think you are?” messages that have been implicitly or explicitly communicated to me in childhood and in my adult life:
Who do you think you are:
These messages have been communicated to me implicitly and/or explicitly from different people in different contexts. Upon hearing the messages, I may have gotten angry, but I was also hurt. What has surprised me along the way is not the message or the messenger, or even how painful the messages have been. It has been surprising for me to learn that some of the pain came from the fact that sometimes I have been asking myself the same question – who do I think I am?
With more lived experience, I have learned that I can heal from painful experiences and it is ok and necessary for me to be my whole, true, authentic self. And no matter how painful or disappointing some of these experiences have been, there has always been strength, love, and peace available for me when I need it. I have found these resources available within myself, within my amazing support system of family, friends, and colleagues, and even in the kind words and deeds of strangers.
Over time, it has occurred to me that many of the people who were communicating these messages to me were not intending harm. Some of them may have even thought they were helping me, offering me a note of caution – Be careful…Don’t get too many big ideas…Play it small so other people can feel big. They may have been speaking from their own places of pain. It has also occurred to me that I might have implicitly or explicitly communicated similar messages to people in my life – friends, family, the kids, students. So if you are out there reading this and I have ever said something to you or looked at you in a certain way that extinguished your fire or stifled your creativity or rhetorically asked, “who do you think you are?” – please accept my sincerest apology. I wish you the best. May you heal and move forward to fulfill your life’s purpose.
Right now, in this moment, if asked, Who do you think you are? I can reply with confidence and sincerity - I am whole, complete, and perfect just as I am and just where I am.