You have only ten words to introduce yourself to a stranger. What would you say?
One of my favorite blogs posed this very question:
Do you mention your job? Do you mention your religion? Do you mention your family? Do you mention your social connections? Do you mention the area where you live, perhaps nodding to your nice home? Do you mention your most passionate hobby? What is it about you that you consider so core to your identity that it’s the first thing out of your mouth when you’re talking about yourself?
Upon first blush, here is mine:
I’m a small business owner. I live in Atlanta.
While accurate, and probably core to my identity, I don’t feel these are the things that I *want* to define me. It is true — I do live in Atlanta and the city has shaped who I am today greatly. However, my location has less to do with my decision and more my family’s decision to move here when I was a teenager. The only decision that is mine was the decision to stay here. And it is true, I have been a small business owner since I was 18. My business provides my family as well as my employee’s families a comfortable living. But I prefer to be defined by more than just my work — I would prefer that work be something that supports my passions rather than define them.
For example, where is my wife in this sentence? My family? My real hobbies and passions? While work keeps me busy at least 1/3 of every weekday, what about the other 2/3 of the weekday? And what about the weekends? The truth is, these other things truly matter more to me, and shape me considerably.
And then there are the things I definitely would NOT want people to define me by: my atheism, being a red-head, or my contrarianism. While these may be very outspoken parts of me, I would prefer to be remembered for things far more important and valuable to others.
I ask myself — who was I prior to “David, the Atlanta-based small business owner?”. And who will I be 10 years from now?
Here is how I would prefer to introduce myself:
I’m a loving husband, loyal friend and family member, and passionately curious human.
So that’s who I am, or at least want to be.
Now — how do I become better at it? Am I investing my time and money wisely to help realize this core self? Do I make the most of my precious, limited time alive to build and realize this core identity, or do I squander it in exchange for comfort and material gains?