Who are you?

What is your answer when asked: “Who are you?”

Are you your job? Does that mean if you become unemployed that you’re nothing?

Are you your familial role? Mom, dad, husband, wife? What happens when the family dynamic changes? Are you left not knowing who you are?

Are you a long-distance runner? Well, what about if you have an accident, and you’ll never walk again? Are you now a long-distance runner who can’t run?

In the past, I might have responded to, “Who are you?” with, “I am a writer.”

But sometimes I don’t write.

What am I then?

A writer who doesn’t write?

That’s a depressing thing to be.

It’s almost always depressing to expect yourself to be something you can’t live up to. Or to need something that circumstances can’t afford you.

So, who am I when I’m not writing?

Well, I’m a canvas.

Life paints on me.

My friends paint on me.

It’s important to be selective about who enters my inner circle. I used to let everyone in indiscriminately, but then my canvas ended up covered in chaos and bloody feces. So to speak.

I still love the people who paint with poop.

That’s just not what I want my painting to be right now.

I have a different vision in mind.

So who am I?

I’m a canvas, and I’m the director of my own composition.

It’s up to me to decide what image my life takes on.

And maybe that image will involve writing. Or even long-distance running (have a ways to go to make that happen). Maybe someday I’ll be a dad, and have a job I care about.

But those are just attributes of my experience, of my composition. It’s not who I am. It’s just what I do. The roles I play. The fashions I wear, the colors I display.

This is not mere semantics.

Because entertaining this mentality means you can survive any change life hurls your way.

If your canvas gets erased, and all the roles you play disappear, you have not lost your sense of who you are.

You know that who you are is a fountain of infinite potentiality.

You’re free to create and recreate yourself in every single moment, as needed.

You’re pretty much a rockstar.

But that’s now who you are, per say…

It’s just how you shine.

Originally published at Andrew L. Hicks.