Who am I? Who are you?


Hi all,

I have been thinking of something lately. If someone asked me who I am, what would I say? Other than the obvious demographic information of course. And I realized I do not have a good answer to that.

I tried to define myself without association to anyone or any job. Assume I am nobody’s daughter, sister, cousin, friend etc. Who am I without them? Assume I am not a PhD student or teaching assistant. Who am I without them? What are my individual characteristics?

The first characteristic that came to my mind is that I love people. I am the kind of person who become the happiest when there are people I love around and we can help lift each other up. Just when I decided this might be a major factor to define myself with, I realized it is not fully due to me. Everyone in my family is people-lovers, so how much of this characteristic if from my family? I don’t know.

Another thing that I thought of was that I like doing things. I like being active (although I possibly adore staying at home more). Then guess what? My mom is more even at her current age and our energies are similar. So that might not be uniquely be me either.

Whatever I thought of turned out to be shared with people around me. Then I thought: what makes me uniquely me? It is the unique mixture characteristics I collected from people around me. I am a mixture of all the people around me and experiences I have had. We all are. In that way, none of us is unique because we have similar traits but we are all unique because we all mix these traits in different ways and amounts.

What do you think? How would you define yourself? How much of you is influenced by people around you or your experiences? Can you say that any characteristic you have is uniquely available to you (namely, you didn’t get it from anyone around you?). Let’s chat.


92 thoughts on “Who am I? Who are you?

  1. Great read! I feel like society puts multiple labels on us that misdirects us from who we really are and what makes you, you. We are more than just our race, our skin colour, our class, the country we’re from, our sexuality, our job title etc.

  2. I think we are all shaped in some way by the people around us, but also the experiences we have. Example: I am good under pressure. I know this by handling a bomb threat and a woman going into labor after a car accident. I was qualified in both cases to handle the situation and I did so with a steady head. So the experiences of my life, more than the people were the important factor. I don’t believe anyone is anything on their own. Only if you were born in a cave and then somehow survived into adulthood with no contact of any kind. Not even possible. So don’t try to define yourself away from others, simply say who you are, what you love, like, hate, what you are passionate about, what you believe. Whether affected by others or not it is who you are.

    1. Agreed! People around us shape us, but we also have something unique about ourselves.
      Also: it is admirable how you handled these hard situations you mentioned. Good for you!

  3. What an interesting piece. I’ve found as I’ve got older that my physical characteristics and some personality traits I have from my parents, but who I am has very definitely come from my own life experiences. So I don’t think we can ever be truly unique but a mix. Also life experiences at my age have built up over the years so I am not necessarily the person I was when I was young. That’s not a bad thing. You know what is said ‘older and wiser’. Life is the steepest learning curve ever! Thank you for this post

    1. Thank you for the comment! I also notice that I changed a lot from my childhood to today, so experiences shape us a lot. Otherwise, we would have stayed the same all our lives and we would not grow much.

  4. Those are certainly nice ways to define yourself! I guess for myself it would depend on context. But I’d say generally, I’d define myself as a parent, a husband, a son… and a lifelong student of life itself.

      1. If it’s anything this pandemic has shown, learning is a lifelong journey. 🙂

  5. Figuring out who I am is a big piece of my life for the last few years. I agree that we bring bits and pieces from those in our lives and our experiences. When I was younger, I was too much my experiences. I was very reactionary. I still am, somewhat, but I like to think that who I am now and who I will be in the future is mostly a result of choice. Except the physical. The genes run strong in my family; I am very resembling of my mother.

    1. There may be some things that we cannot change entirely, but we can tame them. Then there are things we cannot change at all.
      I think we grow every phase of our lives and that is the good thing about it. I believe experiences mostly shape us gradually.

  6. Amazing perspective, I feel theory of relativity applies to defining our self. We are some thing in relation to something . To find our exact coordinates , we are depended on another variable I guess…

  7. I once thought about this ..
    here is the post..
    I was also having similar questions ..It has been a year since I posted it..
    Like you said I think we are a mix in different amounts and proportions..but there is something uniquely which only belongs to oursleves and that we knowingly or unknowingly put in every work.
    Like you said you like being active and so does your mom, but you both may not be doing same type of work.
    I also like to be active. But what I like is to think..to have conversations in my mind..imagining things..and doing all brain work.. while some other person will call all this a sedentary lifestyle..but this is active for me😅
    Now, a lot of such persons may exist, not my family members but others..so yeah!! we are not that unique..but unique in a certain circle or group of people🙃

    Would like to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. I do have a lot of active conversations in y head too. Usually I do it when I am doing some physical activity like walking or dancing. So I mix both activities:)
      I think that although there may be a lot of similar people in terms of their behavior, no two people are ever the same. It is the small differences that make us all different from each other. That is what I believe, at least.
      Also: I will check your post soon:)

  8. ‘There are five notes, but by combinations, innumerable harmonies are produced. There are but five colours, but if we mix them, the shades are infinite. There are but five tastes, but if we mix them there are more flavours than the palate can distinguish.’ (The Art of War)

    The way I like to see it, we’re like a book. The end result is us. Break it down enough, we’re all made up of words. Break it down further, we’re all made up of the same letters. After that, we’re just ink. For that reason, I would’ve said that I am what God wants me to be so that uniqueness can write itself, though I’m not really too interested in being unique to begin with.

    1. I love this quote and the perspective! Indeed, we are all made from the same ingredients. yet we are different. Yet, if we break it down, we see the unity. Lovely!

  9. Interestingly enough when I was a child the two things I was passionate about without outside contributions were playing basketball. I decided one day I was going to try a sport, just picked one, and have loved it ever since. No one in my family played or watched the sport at the time. Another was ever since I could pick up a pencil and draw, write, paint, create, it has stuck with me and it’s something I would never be without. But who knows? Maybe there was another influence that I just didn’t consciously grasp when I made the decision to go after such passions. The mind is such a fantastic and beautiful thing.

    1. Nice examples! There may be some things that are totally unique to us after all. Or maybe there were people good at sports and art in your genetic lineage down the road. Who knows.

  10. This past year I dropped a leadership program for my TCP Youth Empowerment program and the first activity we had out students do what ask themselves “Who Am I” ten times and right down the first thing that came to mind each time. This activity is a great way to start developing self-awareness.

    You make a great point of how you are a unique mixture of characteristics collected from the people around you. We truly are unique but you make a great point that are uniqueness is influence extrinsically.

  11. My social identity is very different from my other identities, I think. Different people see me as very different individuals because we tend to mirror the environment we live in. My cultural and national identity is something set in stone pretty much, I can’t change those and I don’t want to, I like them as they are. The thing about identity is that it changes as our perception of life changes. It makes it fluid which is of course a good news if you see yourself in a negative light due to the situation. It will most probably change as soon as the situation around you changes.

  12. God made you uniquely you! While we all take on characteristics and behaviors of those around us, we are all created unique and priceless in His eyes. May He bless you!

  13. Get out of my head! LOL. I have thought about this since I was a child, I’d lay in bed at night looking into space and softly ask myself, “Who am I?” as I drifted off to sleep. My very first blog post was of this nature, right here on WP! Personally I feel it’s a combination of a few things, but in terms of character traits that one assimilates from others I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s up to you to decide to embrace these traits or suppress them. So yes you’re a PhD student, but you chose to be someone who values academia, that’s what lead you to be a student. Maybe you like staying in like your mom does, but you made the decision to embrace the part of you that values being a home-body.

    1. I love how this has been a relevant question since your childhood!
      I agree we can choose to make our own decisions that may grow or suppress the tendencies we have. But I think suppressing is possible only when we are conscious of how we make decisions. That did not come to me until recently, I think. What do you think?

      1. Yes, it’s when we become fully conscious of our use of will/ability to chose, that we can truly begin to asses the question of, “who am I?” I also feel that it’s a combination of observations one needs to pursue both inward and outward.

  14. You are right, in my estimation, when you say, “I am a mixture of all the people around me and experiences I have had. We all are.” But what makes me unique? God! He makes every zebra’s stripes different from every other zebra in the world. If He can do that, and He can make every single snowflake look different from any other when examined under a microscope, then surely He made me different from all others, too. How am I different? I look different. I think differently. I share ideas in a way that no other can share quite the same way. We each have a voice that’s unique…. and eyes and fingerprints that are not the same as any one else’s. Isn’t God amazing??

  15. I love thinking about this concept.
    We are so used to defining ourselves relationally (in terms of what we are to other people).
    I am a human being. I am part of the universe and so are you. But we are parts that look different. We’re all made of the same atoms and molecules.
    How does a star in the sky differentiate itself from the rest. It doesn’t. It just exists.

  16. Thanks for sharing! When I think about who I am, I think of something similar. A few years ago, on Mother’s Day, I made a Facebook post celebrating all of the women who created the person I am today. From my personality to my ambitions, it all came from them.

  17. Excellent reading, as usual.🙂
    I think, when it comes to who we are, it would be enough just to feel it or better said know it with our hearts, instead of trying to put it in words or personality traits. We tend to lose a lot of valuable meaning when we try to describe ourselves through language. 🥰

  18. I feel EXACTLY what you’re saying! I’ve never had a grasp on who I am. And I think its partially because I spent all my years of school trying to be like the other girls.

  19. Intriguing question and thoughts!

    A few years ago – in my 50s – I finally stumbled across the word that best describes what makes me uniquely me: nemophilist (a haunter of the woods).

  20. I liked that and I agree. I think your also molded by your friends and your not so good friends for when you admire and disagree with someone it adds to your character. I’m usually a very happy person who loves humor, making people laugh. My son once wrote he loved my picture because I was always smiling. I have told my friends and family that when I pass please think of the wacky funny things I did or said. That’s how I want to be remembered.

    1. What a good way to view yourself! You want to bring happiness to people around you as well as yourself, even in otherwise-sad situations. I like that.

  21. That has really changed over the years, yet certain characteristics of my personality persist, even despite myself. Who I am now at 55 is very different from who I was, say, at 15. I suppose I tend to define myself by my circumstances and my personality traits. Yet, having learned some things about the unconscious recently, I realize there’s so much more there I haven’t fully appreciated. So, your question is one for the ages. Religions have been created to answer this question. ; )

    1. Yeah! I think figuring out that mixture is a huge task and one we might not be able to solve any time soon. I also agree that things change and we change too. I am also not the same person even as last year.

  22. Great post @Betul,labeling up people has become a huge crisis in this society than we ever can think of…We all see the side of how we can name ourselves but when it comes to us who label the society in manner they live and so on there’s some more to think…

  23. Awesome! This post gave me a lot to think about. Aside from the accolades by a person. What really defines one is all that matters. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Hi, as a child I was creative. When I became an adult I shrugged that away in pursuit of a sustainable income. Now I’m realizing that it’s possible to do what i love. People change, I’m changing and in so many ways I am reverting back to who I was as a child. The Possibilities are endless!

    1. I had a similar experience! I used to write short stories as a kid and I gave it up for school work. I got back to it 1.5 years ago. It feels good to do what you love.

  25. I often ask myself this question and have going it equally a hard to answer. Thanks for providing some parameter to think about. This was a good read!

  26. I would say who I am is my own consciousness. It’s because each of us can say ‘I am’. I am aware that I can control what I think about. When I think positive thoughts, I feel better and when I think negative, it either makes me feel angry or depressed.

  27. Describing who we are without our accomplishments is really tricky. We’ve been moulded to be something by social media and the society.

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