Who you are, who you want to be like, and what you wantâ€¦ all that kind of info was on the tag sewn into your shirt when the stork dropped you off, right? That’s not how it worked for me, I was born into this world naked as a baby so I’ve been forced to do some figuring for myself.
It’s no secret that the stork with the glasses dropped me off and I was born a nerd. If you didn’t already know that, one look at this rhetorical analysis system I’ve worked out to help me figure out who I am will sear the image of a pocket-protector wearing bird into your mind forever.
This system is not actually as scary as it sounds and you don’t need a PhD to do it, you just need some time and space to do some writing with your thinking cap on (by the way, did you hear they sell those in leopard print now!?).
If you want to try it, here’s what you do…
1. Make a list of people in the world who you believe are doing something valuable with their lives.
2. Next to each name, list out single words or phrases that represent what stands out to you the most about what they’re doing that makes you see it as valuable.
3. Go through and underline the words/phrases that you see repeated.
4. Count up how many times each word/phrase was used.
5. List the words/phrases in order of how many times you used them (words used the most go at the top and the ones used the least go at the bottom).
6. Construct a short paragraph (one or two sentences) incorporating these words in order to find out what’s important to you.
7. If you want to simplify it further, summarize that paragraph into a short statement.
Here’s a small excerpt from my personal Valuable Identity project to give you an exampleâ€¦
People who I believe are doing something valuable with their livesâ€¦.
1. Abby Tracy– helping children, helping the poor, helping orphans, wholistic approach to helping the whole person, self-sacrifice, defending the innocent
2. Doctors and Nurses- self-sacrifice, hard work, caring, facing hard stuff
3. Good school teachers- helping children, teaching life skills, hard work, self-sacrifice, passionate, teaching others
4. Kelli Freeman– hard work, helping children, helping orphans, caring, wholistic approach to helping the whole person, teaching life skills
In the end (my full project consisted of a list of 15 people) the words/phrases that I repeated the most went like thisâ€¦
Passionate- used 15 times
Hard work- 14
Facing hard stuff- 12
Helps people through emotional healing- 11
Life skills- 10
Teaches others- 10
Helps children- 8
Wholistic approach to helping the whole person- 8
Defend the innocent- 7
Generous with giving money- 6
In the end, the sentence I came up with to squeeze those words into sort of a missions statement went like thisâ€¦.
I need to use my passion to care about others. I need to work hard and work with hard issues. I need to help others with their emotional healing while teaching them life skills. I need to sacrifice myself to help children through a wholistic approach. I need to defend the innocent when necessary and give money when appropriate.
In a simpler version that has the ability to encompass all the words…
Help children wholistically.
I’ll be the first to admit that this is a flawed systemâ€¦ but at least it will get you started in thinking about what’s important to you!
I’m not sure that helping children wholistically is what I’m meant to dedicate my life to, but I did learn things about what I value that I didn’t expect. For example, I had no idea that I thought hard work was all that important! When I first met my husband to be, my mom tried to tell me that one of his best character traits was that he was a hard worker, but I thought that sounded boring so I decided that my favorite thing about him was that he was tall. Apparently in my heart of hearts, I really did have a soft spot for that work ethic of his that he applies to more than just his career, but to all areas of his life.
So give it a shot and see what you think! Even if you don’t follow my literature geek model exactly, it will at least give you a place to start from that might just bunny trail you off into Wonderland or some other magical place that will help you find out who you really are and what exactly you believe is important in life.
** At this point you are well on your way to completing Step 2 in finding your extraordinary life which is “Identifying Who You Are and What You Are Meant To Do”. (In case you missed it, Step 1 was “The Discipline of Dreaming“). Of course since uncovering your identity is an ongoing quest, we’ll keep talking about it here… but we’ll also continue on and eventually we’ll head straight into Step 3: “Face the Fears”.
And one more thingâ€¦ if you do this Valuable Identity project, leave a comment to share what you came up with, I’d love to hear it!
(if you liked this project and want to learn more about Extraordinary Living join theÂ Rare Existence Facebook community)!