Upon hearing, “describe yourself in one sentence”, most of us do not know what to highlight and what to leave out. We think we can spontaneously and confidently announce “I am ….”, but we stop short. Anything we say must be scrutinized, censored and trimmed down to the bare essentials, without leaving out any critical bare essential.
It is much like preparing a long journey for which we are allowed only one suitcase. We want to fit enough clothes to change and feel refreshed every day. We want to include our favorite lucky charm, stuffed animal or other object. We make room for the books we are certain we will read while traveling, special shoes for special occasions and so on and so forth.Everything in that suitcase is linked to our identity, to our sense of what makes us feel secure and complete. If it does not close, our minds go reeling into an elimination of the items least likely to be missed or, more accurately, least likely to make us feel lost and incomplete should we not have them.
So what is it that we are, in one sentence? Are we our accomplishments, our credentials, our qualities, our accumulated wealth, fears, things, toys or offspring? How do you wrap all of it in one sentence without missing a beat? Better yet, what does not fit? I could say, “I am a rocket scientist” (just an example, I assure you), but cringe at every word because though this may be what I have become, deep down inside I know it is not all that I am.
So the process of elimination begins. It requires honesty and courage. A suitcase with rocket science textbooks in it may feel more proper, for instance, than one containing a bundle of fabrics for an art project. But ha! The colors, the shades and textures, the feeling of utter fulfillment one experiences as this inspires a new doll design seems to spring straight from the heart, unlike the sight of rocket science paraphernalia. Not that there is anything wrong with rocket science, but it is not everyone’s lot to follow that career path, and career alone does not define a life.
In these times, when technology, information and all manner of professions exist that were inconceivable until not so long ago, one tends to feel insufficiently accomplished without a good job title to throw after “I am”. This is sad. It is sad because, and I am certain of this, many of the people who can place a significant title after those two words cringe when they do it. This has been acquired at such a cost. Their pain is silent. It is the pain of a child who has been told that being authentic comes second to being somebody. The child’s spirit knows the truth.
What is in your suitcase? Did you dare bring the real stuff for your journey?