Thursday, February 21, 2013

What Defines Us

     Years ago while having dinner with a friend, he shared that he hated it when someone asked what he did for a living.  He reasoned that as soon as you tell someone what you do for a living, they judge you.  He said he would rather people ask him what he enjoyed doing with his spare time or what interests he had.  He argued that "what" he did was not "who" he was.  It was a valid point.

   Our occupation is only one hat that we wear.  It may reflect the talents that we have but it is never a full picture of who we are.  So what does define us?  Is it our family?  Many a person has been "branded" for good or bad because of their family associations.  Our family definitely plays a role in who we become; however, it has been shown again and again that our beginning doesn't determine our end.  Many a person has risen higher or fallen lower than their family of origin based on the choices they have made.    Is it our hobbies?  Whether it be computers, gaming, photography, hunting, basketball or another on an endless list, hobbies themselves don't define who we are either.  The people we interact with while engaged in these hobbies mold us and shape us.  Hobbies provide distractions from the daily stresses of life and a way to relax and unwind but they do not define us.

     In high school many of us were judged by the group we hung around with, the way we dressed or the grades we received.  As much as those were characteristics of who we were, they also did not define us.  It has been said that the best employees are not always the ones who had straight A's but the ones who learned how to work hard and struggle to make the grade.  Appearances and first impressions do not always tell the full truth of a person.

     Are we defined by what others say or think of us?  Throughout history many of the greatest authors, composers, inventors, scientists, world changers were laughed at, disregarded and tossed aside.  What if they had decided that what others thought and said of them defined who they were?   Society today would have been robbed of so much that has made the world a better place. 

     Perhaps we are defined by what we say or do.  Thank goodness we are not, for many have made terrible mistakes and said things they wish they could take back.  We all rise at times to heights of accomplishment and at others fall in disappointment or even despair.  We all have the choice, the chance to begin again, to keep on walking, to keep on trying.  Some days we bat 100% and others we strike out every time.  Those days don't define us.

    What defines us is not the parts of the whole, but the sum total of all the parts.  It is not our occupation, our heritage, our hobbies.  It is not what others say of us or even remember us for.  We remember people in history for their accomplishments, their victories and their failures.  These things alone, however, didn't define them.  Like pieces of a puzzle, the decisions we make every day, the paths we choose, the people we emulate, the goals we set, the way we treat others all form a picture that no one person can really see.  It is the picture of our life as a whole that defines us and the picture isn't finished yet.  Choose your pieces wisely.  Make your picture the best, but don't despair when you fall.  The picture isn't finished yet.

Written by Tracey Best

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