“Tell me about yourself.”
Is there any question less daunting? How is a person supposed to respond to that! How do you respond to it?
Do you lead with your job? Your family? Do you talk about your hobbies? Do you talk about your religion or your heritage? The charities you align with? Your political views?
Most of us have no problem answering this question in a business setting. A staple of interviews, there are plenty of articles out there telling you how to, and how not to, formulate a professional answer to this question. But, how do you handle it in a social setting? How do you answer it internally? Do you answer the same way?
Needless to say, people categorize people. Much like the cliques in high school, this sort of organization is common place. We lump people. It’s what we do. But, what’s more important is how you lump yourself. What parts of your hugely complex being do you want to be remembered for?
When I think about myself and what I really want people to know about me, I feel overwhelmed. I don’t want to be lumped! But, I suppose there are certain parts of who I am that are more developed than others, parts that play a bigger role in my life.
I always consider myself Irish (even though I am not anymore Irish than I am a Heinz 57 of ethnicity, this one seems to have stuck). I am most definitely a dog person with a passion for rescue. I love education and helping people pursue it. I love to travel. I love to eat. I write and I paint. I'm divorced. I listen to country music.
What amazes me about the human condition is that we take all of these aspects of a person and force them into one word descriptors. Foodie. Hipster. Lesbian. Republican. Liberal. Catholic. The list goes on for miles. But, who says that any particular aspect of you carries more weight than the rest?
Sometimes I worry that if I lead with certain aspects of me that I will be lumped incorrectly. Instead of fueling a desire to share all of who I am with people, this worry leads me to silence. The lump gets caught in my throat. Or worse happens, and I start to let how people lump me impact how I see myself. The lump takes over.
We're the only people who can define ourselves.
I think my fascination with this topic lies in my own personal struggle with finding myself and the confidence to live undefined and somewhere between the lumps.