What are the markers that comprise an identity? What is the definition of identity? I recently attended a workshop lead by the impressive, and by that I mean the man speaks 15 languages, plays the violin and the viola, and is also an opera singer impressive, Dr. Derrick Gay. The bulk of the very interactive discussion focused on these two questions. Then we moved on to the good stuff where we explored the very meaning of our own identity; the end game being that if we better understand ourselves we can better appreciate others.
Dr. Gay lead us through a series of identity exercises. First we wrote down 15 words on a card (for our eyes only) that represented our identity. Go ahead, give this a shot. Stop right now and write down 15 things that configure your identity. You can list things like what I wrote: mom, wife, daughter, friend, sister, volunteer, Ohioan, New Yorker…etc.
From there we then went on to work with a partner. Person A would repeatedly ask Person B the question: “Who are you?” After each answer from Person B, Person A would again ask “Who are you?”, “Who are you?”, “Who are you?” for 60 seconds (which happens to be a really long time!) Try this with a friend or the person sitting next to you on the subway. It was interesting grappling with what words to share about yourself with a perfect stranger. This more public exercise did dredge up meatier and more interesting aspects of one’s identity.
As my identity was now on display I shined it up a bit to include the traits that at least my brain thinks make me shinier as a person. Characteristics like theater enthusiast, travel enthusiast, fitness enthusiast, cultural enthusiast, adventure enthusiast and, of course, dog enthusiast. I would also throw in family and friends enthusiast. I am sure you are picking up a pattern here – enthusiast is an across the board consistent identity marker of mine.
As I thought about this later I realized the purpose of this blog is to share the things I am most enthusiastic about so that others can GO and enjoy them too. If you spend time on the site you will notice an overarching tilt towards unabashed positivity. This is deliberate and purposeful and not to be confused with me being an easy critic. I go to lots of places, do plenty of things, and try a slew of different products with the intention of writing about them. BUT if I don’t deem them Grab Your Group and GO worthy, I do not put pen to paper so to speak. As we have not built a place on the site called “DON’T Grab Your Group and GO”, there is no room for anything I am not enthusiastic about on our blog.
Now back to you… after you’ve done these two exercises sit for a moment and write down a list of the things in your life that you are most enthusiastic about. Then ask yourself – are you allocating time to the things you listed? If these are the things in your life that you are MOST ENTHUSIASTIC about, this is your clue as to how you should be spending MOST of your time. Grab your time and go spend it on the things that keep you enthused. In closing let me ask you two more questions: Who are you? And how do you spend your time?
If you ever get the opportunity to hear Dr. Gay speak, take it! There is a Ted talk on his website if you want to get a preview of his voice.