What Makes you, YOU

“Too many of us suffer from pervasive feelings of personal powerlessness. We have a terrible habit of obstructing our own paths forward, especially at the worst possible moments.” ~ Amy Cuddy

Who are YOU?

I recently re-listened to a podcast with the great Amy Cuddy (of TED talk fame) and Lewis Howe. She is a PHD and an author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. In the podcast she  asked what would define you. YOU, YOURself. NOT what am I good at or are my accomplishments. But WHO am I deep down? Yes we all see the bios of who went to Yale, has a job at a fortune five hundred company, created some charity, the list goes on and on and on. But rarely do those bios list WHO they are. We can assume if someone is creating a charity, they are a giver or compassionate, but it also isn’t necessarily a given. So often we think that who we are is equated to successes and not our personal virtues. Amy Cuddy herself was incredibly intelligent (and still is!) but after a harrowing car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury she lost thirty IQ points and never thought she would be successful. Obviously she proved her doctors and everyone else wrong. But her identity was with her IQ and not with her attributes. You strip away IQ, jobs, even mobility, and what is left? What makes you, YOU?

In the podcast she told Lewis Howe that one of the things she identified with, was that she was kind. That was who SHE was. In recent months I have thought a LOT about who I am at my core as I have felt with life challenges and changes, as well as dealing with friendships and relationships that have ebbed and flowed. My aunt reminded me that one of my greatest attributes is how family oriented I am. How much I give to my relationships; family, friendships, and lovers. THAT at my core is who I am.

As much as I have appreciated the compliment, it is also something I have been struggling with as those above mentioned relationships have ebed flowed and disintegrated. I own that I am not always perfect, in life, but especially relationships, but I always try to give at least two hundred percent in relationships. While I don’t do it for reciprocity, I do feel like people take advantage. In fact I have struggled with some of my closest friends ghosting me, or telling me this isn’t our season after I have been there for them through thick and thin (alot of thin, I helped my friend pull off her wedding and another was dealing with some legal battles I helped her with) and yet they can’t be bothered to even send a text message, or check on me when they know I am going through something.

Again this isn’t to say we do things to get something out of it, but relationships are NOT one sided. There has to be an equitable amount of give and take, THAT is what makes a relationship. If someone only takes and takes and takes, regardless of how secure someone is, it is going to make them feel shoddy eventually and like they aren’t being appreciated or even seen. It is human nature to crave validation, even in the most self-secure of people. Yes, validation begins with us, but it is nice to hear a person we love and respect say that they value us as a person as well.

Who am I? 

Who am I? Yes, I am kind, but I am also a giver and a lover. I give my ALL to relationships. I love unabashedly, and because of that there are times I have definitely felt jaded and questioned everything. Questioned my worth, and even whether I am a good person. It can be frustrating and hurtful, but I have also made the albite painful discovery those relationships were not for me, and they were never truly healthy and as much as I hate to give up (another albite more toxic trait), I have to let them go, compassionately, but to let go just the same to give space for better healthier relationships, and shockingly, that has led me to some incredibly important relationships. We attract what we want to attract which is something I have discovered in spades the last couple years. Every relationship serves us good or bad,in some ways it is what we need at the time and a reflection of that. But when you are open and in a much healthier state of mind, you receive all the good and that is what I have received. Being open to these connections has also let me cultivate a deeper understanding of who I am, and what I want.

While being relationship oriented can be a struggle at times, it is who I am at my core. To take that away, I wouldn’t be Kate. Hearing my Aunt tell me how nice it was, I was so relationship oriented and cared about people, was a validation I needed to hear to re-affirm my beliefs. It also was a reminder that the RIGHT people will appreciate it and tell you so. There are pros and cons to everything. But owning who YOU are, is so incredibly freeing. I am a giver, I give my ALL to relationships. It is NOT a negative thing. Yes sometimes it gets taken advantage of and sometimes those relationships fizzle out, and that is all okay. It doesn’t change who I am, nor is it a reflection of me, and my heart and the importance I put into cultivating those relationships. Never EVER be ashamed of who you are. Never ever feel guilty or sad for giving your all to relationships even when they don’t work out. It is a sign of having the biggest heart and at your core it is who YOU are. Own it. It not only defines you, but it is your gift. It is my gift. It is something I am proud to be. It is what defines Kate. And I am happy to own it.

What makes you, YOU? Are you a giver? How do you navigate relationships? 

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