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Do You Know Who You Are?

"Do you know who you are when someone or something else isn’t defining you?"

Tara Schuster, a former executive at Comedy Central shared this question during an interview on a podcast. It was a question that she had asked herself after being let go from the network.

For many years, I had a married name and this was before I actually got married.

That name was Monita Rajpal, CNN.

I was married to and defined by my job. It was my whole identity. It was also a security blanket under which I would claim my worth and value in the world.

When those three letters were no longer part of my name I felt adrift, until I decided to build my own life raft. After the initial discomfort of not being tethered to an established anchor (pardon the pun), I had to decide whether I continue on a known path and just get another job in the same industry or could this be an opportunity to explore that niggling feeling that had been gnawing away at me for a long time?

The definitions of our life act like bamboo scaffolding holding us up. It also helps to give us a sense of belonging. When one part falls down that is when we can decide whether it is an opportunity to rebuild ourselves in the image that is true to who we feel we are or stay stuck in a structure that has been built for us.

If you’re contemplating that question, here are three steps you can take to begin taking down that scaffolding to discover who you are:

💡 Embrace Silence and Reflection: Amidst the discomfort of detachment from familiar labels, find solace in silence. Keep asking yourself that question. In the quietude, you may unearth insights that illuminate the answer for which you're searching.

💡 Challenge Cultural and Societal Narratives: Question the narratives that have shaped your sense of identity based on culture, race, or societal norms. Explore whether these narratives align with your authentic values and aspirations, or if they have imposed limitations on your self-discovery journey. It doesn’t mean you’re not proud of your story, your culture, your gender. But you get to choose what aspects hold you up and shed what brings you down.

💡 Reclaim Personal Agency: Embrace this opportunity to rebuild yourself authentically, free from external constraints and predetermined narratives. Get to know who you are like you would someone you have just met. What would you say about yourself? There is such freedom knowing you get to choose your own narrative because as Schuster says, “When you give the keys of your authenticity to someone else, buckle up, that is not going to be a good ride.”

I chose to answer that question my own way. It didn’t mean I wasn’t terrified. It didn’t mean the answers came to me easily. But it was necessary for my own evolution. It takes courage to redefine ourselves in alignment with our true essence but it is worth every struggle.

So, who are you when someone or something else isn’t defining you?


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