“Defining Me: Moments and Events that Shaped Who I Am.” is a monthly guest post series on Like a Bird where one blogger (or artist, blog reader, crafter, etsian, etc) will share events, moments and trials they have gone through to shape who they are today.
Kristin is a full-time English Literature and Japanese major by day, and blogger at My Life as a Teacup by night. Never passing up an opportunity to talk about her love for the Original Trilogy or a good cup of tea, she primarily blogs about wanderlust, good books, and life in Pittsburgh with her scaredy-cat and the Boy. Stop by and say hello!
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After reading Kendra’s first *Personal Truths and Reflections* post in January, I was instantly inspired to take a step back, and honestly and seriously reflect on all of the events and milestones that have shaped who I am as a person. I think it’s extremely important for one to know themselves outside and in, even if that means not knowing what defines one’s whole essence quite yet. It’s a hard thing to do, and I’m not sure if there’s one correct and unchanging answer.
The idea seemed fun at first – after all, I’m a fairly open person; how hard can reflecting on myself, who I know so well, be?
Hard. But a good kind of hard.
Every time I sat down to write, I felt my head spinning, trying to find the “perfect” moment to point to. There’s been plenty in my life that has shaped who I am, from a summer living in a small Japanese town, to losing a very treasured and long-standing friendship, but every time I came back to one thing: the little talks that my Dad (or “brow-beatings”, as he likes to refer to them as) has given me along the way. Often filled with wacky quotes, tall tales, and his own personal memoirs, one has always stuck out in particular and it is this particular saying that has guided me more times than I can count:
I remember constant car rides, questions of my opinion on this event or that idea. I remember made-up sayings, quotes from Captain Kirk and the wisdom of my grandfather. My dad would ask ‘why?’ to every firm belief that I uttered and I understand now how much knowing the answer to that one little word means in who I am and what I believe in.
I was brought up learning to ask the right questions, the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘how’, but the most valued question, and thus the most valued response, was ‘why’. I was granted my own opinion, my own thoughts in regards to anything I could think of as long as I knew in my heart why I believed such. Whether from concrete facts, first-hand experience, or a strong feeling, I had to be able to understand and support my own beliefs.
Too often opinions get tossed around like they are nothing, and yet I believe ideas are the most fragile things. There are those who just assume the beliefs of others, never inquiring as to ‘why?’ and thus being blindly mislead, simply a lemming to another’s way of thinking. There are those who never stop to contemplate the reasons behind their thoughts. And yet when I encounter a new idea, a new course of action, a new device even, I stop and ask myself ‘why?’.
Why is this idea meaningful? Why does this define me? Why do I believe in what I believe in? Why have I chosen this path? Why has this happened?
I can always defend my opinion, even if it is not widely liked or supported. I have my reasons. I know what lies behind the choices I make. I am more reflective on events, both in my own life and in others’. It is a powerful tool in evaluation sticky situations. Asking why is like understanding my own essence, my own train of thought, and having a reason for all that I do – even if that reason is as simple as a gut feeling – it is my own, and it is me.
Opinions are powerful things, they can be persuasive, illuminating, and life-changing, just at as they can be controversial, damaging, or, unfortunately sometimes ill-informed. Beliefs create your core, you mantra, how to feel and exist and *be* *you*. They are how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. Whatever your personal opinions, beliefs, or attitudes towards something you are entitled to your thinking; ideas are what make the world go ’round, but you must be able to own up to your own beliefs and answer that all-important question:
If you’re interesting in writing a post for the “Defining Me” series please email me kendra[at]likeabirdblog[dot]com or use the contact form.
Don’t forget to check out my personal companion series: Personal Truths and Reflections