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Who Do You Think You Are?

Feb 07, 2019

Who are you? When someone asks you this question, what would be your first reaction? I am an engineer, I am a scientist, I am the managing director of xyz, I am an intern, I am a mother, daughter, wife, husband, son, father or in some cases it could be all of the above, depending on your gender of course.

Truly though, aren’t these what you actually do, or the roles you have been given, or you found yourselves in? So you might be an engineer at work, but a father at home, son to your mother, a friend ... but how many of you are there? Is there just one you? or many depending on what role you find yourself in life?

Let’s say you are at work as an engineer, doing an amazing job, you are in your element. One day someone, who doesn’t know anything about the good work you have done, comes along, with a strong opinion about the most recent work you have been doing, and he has a different one to yours. He starts questioning everything you have done, disagreening with you without knowing any details, judging you without even listening. Boom! your world is turned upside down. Blood starts rushing to your head, you are upset, you start thinking: ‘ Oh no, I am a bad engineer, I have done a bad job, I am not good...’ as the thoughts develop they turn in to: ‘I am a bad person, I am not good enough, I always make mistakes, I am not cut out for this...’. 

What do you think happens next? You start to doubt yourself every time someone asks a question about a piece of work you have done. Your immediate reaction is: ‘I am wrong, he must be right’ or ‘I need to do everything in my power to prove him wrong, because I can’t be wrong, if I am wrong, I am a bad engineer therefore I am a bad person and I am not good enough to do this’.

Do you see what is happening? When you associate who you are with what you do, everytime what you do is questioned in any way, you start putting further meanings to how you do things and call yourself ‘bad engineer’. Even worse, in time, you start to behave like a ‘bad engineer’ and it is a downward spiral from here on in.

What you do in life is often determined by who you think you are. Therefore, how you see yourself will often determine how you conduct yourself around other people, just like the example above.

However, the danger is that if you choose to underscore and place higher value on what you do rather than who you are, you might find your identity through what you produce and create or through the results you get, or don’t get. As a result, you find your self-esteem through the different roles you play at work, at home or in the community in which you belong. As such, you tend to relate to others according to the role you play.  This means, your self-esteem will change depending on what the situation is, if you are at work, or what role you are playing at any given time.

So I ask again, Who do you think you are?

Why does it matter anyway? I hear you ask. Well, you will have to wait until next time to find out...

Next time someone (generally in a position of authority) asks: ’Do you know who I am?’ Do you think he knows who he really is?...


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