Transitioning from “Who” to “What”

 Throughout my teen years and well into college, I was obsessed with discovering ‘who I was.’ I didn’t think of it in those terms and if you had told me I was on some journey of self-discovery I would have laughed, but that is exactly what it was. I loved quizzes and personality tests. It didn’t matter if the test was encompassing like the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator, or something silly such as ‘Which Disney Princess Are You?’ What mattered was that I was learning more about me. I needed to know why I was an extrovert or what it meant to be a verbal processor or how my red hair made me like Ariel (I was never flattered by that comparison.) Every detail mattered. My love language, my spiritual gifts, my DISC results, and especially my identity as ENFP all worked together to create a profile of who I was and why I viewed the world the way I did. I needed to know so that I could understand myself. Even this need, I read, somehow tied back into my personality. It all circled around and I desperately wanted to understand that circle.

Now that I’ve been “adulting”* for a while, I find my need has shifted as I have matured. I no longer ask ‘who am I’ but rather ‘what am I.’ One of my wonderful friends, Tori, expresses it this way:

“In those earlier years we dwell on who we are in a self centered way, finding labels and applying them like “introvert” or “shy” or “driven.” But as we get older we realize that that isn’t so important, and the focus shifts more outward. We now ask ourselves “how am I going to use my personality? If I am driven what am I fighting for? If I am introverted, how will I use my time by myself?” We no longer ask who we are but what we are going to do with who we are.”

“…what we are going to do with who we are.” I love that line. I don’t have all the answers I once sought, but it doesn’t matter as much anymore. The angst is over! My “self” has been tested and and the testing has brought maturity. Maturity, in turn, has provided a sense of confidence. Confidence gives me the kick I need to get into more situations where I will be tested. This is a different circle than the one I originally sought to understand, but it is much more satisfying.

As Tori says, “as we get older…the focus shifts more outward.” This outward shift means I prioritize things differently. I see my work as a challenge and a joy that will develop me further. I see those around me differently because I don’t just want to analyze them to contrast them with me, but to further develop them. I’m free from wondering how I will act and able to focus on acting for others. My generation gives adulting such a bad rap, but I have to say, it is one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.

A voice in the back of my head chimes in: “Well, you know, ENFPs tend to view people as untapped sources of potential so when you say all that you are really just living up to your type…” And you know what? Maybe I am. However, where once I would have been consumed by that why, I can now shrug and say, “so what am I going to do about that? Whose potential can I tap?”

 

 
*aka, graduated and working an adult job

Check out Tori’s blog at – https://isayitbetterinwriting.wordpress.com/

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