In the age of the Internet, there’s a common misconception that we can figure out who others are by looking them up online. With our own sleuthing skills, the speed and sophistication of search engines, and the abundance of information out there, we can form conceptions (skewed by the keywords we’ve typed in) about people we barely know or have never met. It becomes easy to build a virtual personal composite to define a physical whole.
As I age, I’ve become much, much clearer about who I am. Recently, I thought it might be fun to see who Google thinks I am. After typing in my name, I was surprised to find The Invisible Parenting Handbook prioritized as the first link. Yes, I am the author of this book, and I do think that the book is an important part of my identity, but it’s a part, not the whole. How far down the page would the unacquainted observer scroll until satisfied they knew me? No matter how far they scrolled, the search results tell more about what I’ve done than the everyday holism of who I am. What Google’s functionality doesn’t map out is the web of my interpersonal relationships (I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, relative to many, and friend to some), my personal values (I am a person of integrity, choice, kindness, conversation, passion, activism, faith, and courage), and my habits of conscious consumption or even my politics. No matter how transparent I am on my social media sites, no matter how diligent I am about posting, the search would not yield the essence of who I am.
Two things brought this self-reflection to the forefront of my thoughts recently. The other day, I was trying to schedule an appointment with a leading Seattle retailer’s CEO. After his assistant and I spoke about my need for an appointment, she checked my LinkedIn profile. The fact that she couldn’t directly ask me who I am and why I’m so passionate about speaking with her boss left me feeling a little unsettled.
The next prompt for this thinking was a recent conversation I had with a wonderful woman with many gifts, talents, and a BIG heart. She told me that her job as a mother had come to “completion” (her daughter had launched), and now, she’s searching to find herself again. The act of raising a child is such a monumental and all-encompassing role that it’s easy to get swept away from ourselves and come out on the other end wondering who we are. I trust this women will enjoy remembering and piecing together all of who she is.
For me, knowing and enjoying who I am, brings me a great sense of comfort and peace. I would encourage others to explore the same for themselves. I believe that as more have that internal peace, the more we will collectively grow.
What is the whole picture of you? What have you done, who do you spend time with, what do you believe? What do you want others to know about who you are?
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