What Defines You?

I tend to have very interesting conversations. Eye opening even. Yes, I do that regularly. The other day I got into a debate (no, really this time it wasn’t an argument it was a real debate) about determining who you are and what your purpose is or what makes you tick. What makes you wake up in the morning (no not the alarm clock). Ok.., say, what gets you out of bed (no smart answers please). What defines you. If you were to be stripped off your day to day activities, would you just wander around aimlessly or would you default to things that have been ingrained in you since you were little? Of course you were once little!

See, there are people who, since childhood, will gravitate towards creating things. Others like to take pictures (photography). Others are consumed by wanderlust and they can’t seem to settle in for more than a given period of time before taking off on a new adventure. Others like clothes, and so on. Unfortunately, as we grow older, these natural tendencies are stripped off either by parents or society telling us that money is not made from talent, or chasing other people’s goals in false belief that they are our own or even not knowing that if only we focused on what came to us naturally as children, then we would be able to do what we love, and even make money from it!

You don’t believe me? Let’s take an example. Case study if you will. A little girl has always loved dressing dolls up. She doesn’t know why she does it, but she keeps hounding her mummy to help her make tiny clothes to dress the dolls up. She can’t seem to get away from it, even when she is a teenager. Only this time, she begins dressing herself up. We know that not every child will be inclined to do such things. She is a brilliant performer in school and everyone keeps telling her that she will make a great doctor. She works extremely hard, and attains great grades to get herself into medical school. She still dresses well and seems to create a dress style that is uniquely hers. In your opinion, what really defines her? What would she find the most joy doing? Being a doctor or being a fashion designer?

Case study 2. A boy who cannot stop visiting places. The boy cannot sit in the house for extended periods of time since he was little. He knows his surroundings so well he can tell you who lives where, what river crosses which and the shortest route from his house to the shop. The boy is also quite good in school. His father tells him he will make a great lawyer some day. In between studies though, he always finds himself involved in outdoor activities, including organizing camping activities, traveling to different areas, and all his friends know that if they need an event out of town, he would be the best person to contact. He grows up consumed by wanderlust. Also, thanks to his father’s encouragement, he finds himself with good grades to enroll into law school. What should he do? Go to law school or become a travel agent?

In both cases, the choice being made is whether to follow the head or the heart. What would happen if we sat back and really considered who we are and what we seem to naturally gravitate towards, as opposed to what seem agreeable by society’s standards? Would we have happier, more productive people in our midst? Would mid-life crisis be as prevalent as it currently is? Food for thought.

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6 thoughts on “What Defines You?

  1. Two fine examples. The pressure to please parents and fulfill their expectations has led many young people into careers that left them unhappy. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful if young people were able to follow their hearts and still have the parents’ approval and support.

    At the end of the day most kids will do anything – to win that approval.

    1. My point exactly. Sadly, 30 years down the line, we realise that we have been unhappy with what we do for so long that our minds and bodies have adapted, until that one thing happens and you would do anything to make a change to what makes you happy. Then the question of ‘is it too late’ becomes your determining factor.

  2. I would say that if you want to make a living follow your head, but if you want to have a life, follow your heart…oops, I forgot, no smart Alec answers! Anyway, I always encourage people to do what they enjoy doing. Unfortunately I find that people have limited ideas on career and at most times are unaware of vast opportunities that could exists within what they often reduce to the level of their ‘hobbies’, mostly because school life and parents make us focus on only the so called traditional careers, i.e. medicine, engineering, law, teaching etc…

    1. *sigh* Did I or did I not say no smart comments? 😀 But I do agree with you saying ‘if you want to make a living follow your head, but if you want to have a life, follow your heart’. Main-stream career path is slowly dying and soon people will realise that they need to look beyond that.

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