Sorry, let me be clearer. Who are YOU? It’s ok if you can’t answer it right now in a few sentences. We will emerge a little different after #lockdown, with so much time to stop and think! It’s a never-ending interrogation that catapults most of us towards our destiny, or, at the least, to being a better version of ourselves.
Identity is shaped by a number of things. Our families, our life experiences, our culture, religion, gender, influences. And it’s evolving. As we integrate wins and losses, new teachings or teachers, into our lives, so we transform.
We are developing an “operating system” (OS) that largely runs the apps of YOU. Keep the OS updated, install new apps, delete a few platforms and influences that aren’t good for you, and hey presto, you’ve got a robust, debugged system that should flow nicely and glitch less. It serves us with better information to make better choices which deliver better results. Simple, right?
It’s not as easy as it sounds though. We are stimulated by distracting ’noise’ all around us, especially in the last decade or so since smart devices exploded. These influences are ‘always-on’ and in our back pocket, as we flick from app to app to app, from image to image, from opinion to opinion. It fills our time. And in that time, it fills our mind.
Let’s take the coronavirus as an example, that is currently everywhere we look. For some, we will not forget this (rare) event and will become more wary of hand hygiene and the flu for years to come. In the same way, Capetonians almost found themselves at Day Zero without water – and still shower sparingly a few years on. We have literally lived through it, via news and social feeds. It has planted a seed inside our minds and that seed flowers our thoughts and our actions. We just need to be sure we plant the right seed.
Because that flower, whether it be a rose or a cactus, shapes the way we actually see ourselves and others – how they look, their bodies, or clothes, or money, or achievements. We need to be watchful and think more critically about what we consume. The world is doing that with physical health, after all – what we eat and how much exercise we do – so why do we overlook our ‘mind health’, and the deep importance of our identity?
After all, this is your brand, in one sense, what you are showing to the world. Is it positive or caring or ambitious or loyal or entertaining, or perhaps a little negative, envious, selfish, or critical? Which one is more attractive, more enjoyable to live with, and will likely end up in a better end result?
We can only start to influence our identity when we acknowledge where we are right now in our lives? Whatever identity you have created over time, from all types of inputs, interactions with people, influences and influencers, you can set a different goal to adjust your course to a new destination.
It may take time, of course. Once you ignore the quiet yadda yadda yadda of resistance that your mind will whisper at you – because it prefers to keep you stuck in the safety of being just the same – you can break free and chase your dreams. You just have to set those sights and never take your eye off the prize. Tonight, close your eyes before you go to sleep, and ask yourself what you like about yourself, what you are good at it, what you are passionate about, and what means a lot to you?
Or sit at your desk and write it down. But ask.
With even a basic understanding of who you are now, and why, we can perhaps ask the much more interesting question of ‘who do you want to be’? If we ask enough and visualize where we want to go, it will sit in the background and impact the choices we make, and therefore the outcomes we receive. That’s why people cut out photos and stick them to their fridge, write about their dreams in journals, or create ‘vision boards’. Great stuff. The visual reminder that sits in front of you every day will fire up those decisions and actions.
When you grasp what matters to you, it will help anchor your identity. If someone asks you to give up what matters to you – or you make a one-off mistake (we all do) – you will always have a clear foundation and base to return to.
This is a difficult one. Our lives are dominated by relationships with family, friends, and partners. But who we choose to trust, to help us know who we are and advise us and educate us is important. If their influence isn’t good, it can pull us in the wrong direction, and if they can’t be trusted, the betrayal can shape the way you think about people and things in future.
In the same way, we need to work our who to trust (above), we need to guard the door of what we put in our mind, our influences. Positive friends, positive influences, a better chance of positive outcomes. If there is something you want to pursue in your life, watch carefully those who have succeeded. The strange thing is for adults and teens is that we don’t stop to realize the deep impact of the choices we make all day long. They are the thousands of tiny opportunities that get presented to us. Choose wisely. You’re worth it.
The hardest things in life are understanding who you are, and making the changes to get you to who you want to be? Yes, change is hard, but it’s achievable. Make good friends with yourself and continue you on life’s greatest journey. The discovery of who you really are.
This blog post was written by MySociaLife, South Africa’s Premier Digital Life Skills Program, taught in schools from Grade 4 to Grade 11 learners. The 8-module course educates teens and pre-teens to become safer and smarter digital citizens who will then be able to differentiate themselves and excel in The Fourth Industrial Revolution – the primary objective shared by schools, students, their parents and their teachers. The content covers cyberbullying, privacy, sexuality online, critical thinking, identity, digital footprint, a digital values system and brain chemistry and human performance. Most importantly, the MySociaLife Program goes further by also offering 3 additional informative presentations to educate the adults – teachers, parents and psychologists too – ensuring the responsibility is shared and support surrounds the learner.
This article was originally published on 26 Mar 2020
MySociaLife is South Africa’s Premier Digital Life Skills Program. Enjoying international recognition, the Program is receiving growing attention from the reality that this critical digital education has been largely left ignored by government and education institutions in Africa – making life online a rather complex labyrinth for teens and tweens to navigate, without a map! Until now…Follow them on @MySociaLifeSA (Instagram, Facebook or Twitter) or via www.mysocialife.com
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