Sharing your identity is a way to find connections with others and remind you of who you are at your core. When I look at my web I know there is a story to go with each circle. Some of those stories had a profound impact on my own identity like being the daughter of two social workers and having grandparents who were educators. I come from a family of people who believe in helping others at their core and I have embraced that passion as part of my identity. Nature and the outdoors is something that is weighed heavily in my personal decision-making. My grandfather nurtured my love for the outdoors and my grandmother encouraged me to follow this passion as I got older. I connect with family through the outdoors and build friendships through this part of my identity. I think another important part of my identity is being a proud older sister. My role as a sister encouraged me to be curious. I had multiple opportunities to try out all sorts of ideas as an older sister because, let’s be honest, younger siblings tend to look up to their older siblings. It’s just the way things work. So, every time I got a crazy idea, I had someone by my side who would try it with me or in some cases just do what I said. I learned a lot from sister and as I got older I was able to refine my methods and become more of a teacher than a teller, become more empowering than simply solving problems by myself. I learned that two heads are better than one. I can go on and add more stories to my circles but hopefully you are starting to get the idea of how spending time thinking about your own identity can not only help you understand yourself better but also help you connect to others. When you were just reading about my web did you make any connections to my stories?
I recently listened to the Ted Radio Hour podcast, “Beyond Tolerance.” Some provocative questions were posed, “What are your biases? We all have them. Who is your default? Who do your trust? Who are you afraid of?” I was particularly struck by this statement, “ Your comfort is real but what are we missing by not understanding others and their ways of being? Ultimately, we are the same.” As you begin to explore your own identity and connect with others, come from a place of genuine curiosity. Empathy and compassion comes from having relationships with friends who are different from you. How many authentic relationships do you have with people who are different from you? Expand your social circles! Who is missing?