“What defines me?”
What we define ourselves by plays a critical role in who we grow up to be. It not only
shapes the way we approach day-to- day events, but also the way we look at the future. Definition
provides expectation and expectation shapes our goals. Knowing what you want to do with your
life is a good thing. Having something that gives you an achievement to strive for it also good.
But, at what point does what we’re defined by get in the way of our perspective? How can our
expectations cloud what is possible and what is not? Both expectation and perspective are critical
in looking at who we are and who we want to become. So really think about it, “What defines
music, great at building things, being hilarious, drawings pictures or being a creative writer,
these are all ways that people often end up classifying themselves as. We have a habit of defining
ourselves by what we’re good at.
So what’s the problem? Why does it matter where we find our self-worth? The issue lies in the fact that we lose our perspective through the great expectations of ourselves that we will never be able to live up to. Don’t get me wrong, finding something you like and actively pursuing it is not a bad thing. It becomes an issue when what you are good at becomes who you are.
For example, if you live your life focused entirely on sports and being the best player you
can be, eventually you are going to reach a point where how you preform is in a direct correlation
with how you view your self-worth. So, what happens when you miss a shot, have a bad game or
don’t make it to the next level? Do you shrug it off and keep playing because it’s fun? Or will the
effect of not living up to your own expectations, of being defined by one thing, tear you apart. I
know how hard this can be because I have been challenged with this question of “what am I defined by” for quite a while now.
I know Jesus is my saviour. I know that He is my King. Nothing can take that away from me.
seemed to pull off good grades (even in subjects I didn’t care much about). I never was blessed
with the gift of being able to grasp a new concept instantly, but I knew how to work diligently to
make sure I still understood it. Slowly throughout public school and then into high school I built
up this persona that I was a “smart” student. Add on to the fact that I was really interested in
science and astronomy (as was semi-knowledgeable about it) and you have the creation of my
definition, “People think I’m smart, therefore I need to be smart.” While I may never have said
this out loud to anyone, this was one of the driving factors behind me going to university for a
degree in science. Letting this thought process define my expectations for what I am is one of the
worst mistakes I’ve made in my life.
Currently I am in my third year struggling through a Bachelor of Science & Business
(Physics Specialization) at the University of Waterloo and it has completely broken me on
several occasions. Up until university, I never failed a test, I never did poorly in a course and I
was always in the upper half of the class for marks. In my very short time at UW I have not only
failed numerous tests and quizzes, but midterms, final exams and even entire courses. These
failures were monumental since my life was defined by one thing, “People think I’m smart,
therefore I need to be smart.” I let my life be defined by how smart people thought I was and
how well I thought I should be doing. I couldn’t see past my own unrealistic expectations and
lost perspective on what it is I am actually defined by. I am not defined by my intelligence, or
how well I do in school. I am defined by who I am in Christ.
I know Jesus is my saviour. I know that He is my king. Nothing can take that away from
me. But sometimes I lose perspective in the expectations I’ve created for myself. I still want to
succeed in school, and I enjoy aspects of it, but I need to continually remind myself that just
because I’m good at something, doesn’t mean it’s who I am.
Who I am is a child of God. Fearfully and wonderfully made. With many abilities, skills
and attributes that can be only described as blessings. I am not defined by my intelligence, my
skills or my talents. God has a plan and if in that plan I need to be humbled (a regularly
occurring event as of late), then I need to learn to be humbled. Use the gifts God gave you, not as
a way to define who you are, but as a way to bring honour to his name.
So now ask yourself again,
“What defines me?”
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
himself for me.”