Who Am I? Who I Am.

20_yearsNext year, Denise and I will celebrate twenty years of marriage on July 1. That’s a score … both in terms of it becoming an awesome event (what a score!) as well as it demonstrating a group of twenty years (a more historical definition of score … think Abraham Lincoln).

A couple of years into our marriage, Denise turned to me one night — it was peaceful in those days as we were married young, and there were no goats in our lives for another eight years — and she said:

“Don’t you do things with boys?”

I knew what she meant right away.

Denise was asking why I didn’t do what she was used to, what (perhaps) she was expecting and what society deemed as ‘normal’.

“You know,” she continued, “do you ever go away on trips with boys or play cards or just want to do boy things with the boys?”

Now, you might think she was trying to pawn me off. What she was trying to do, however, was to better understand why I wasn’t doing what every other husband or boyfriend or man she knew at the time was doing. I wasn’t fitting into her definition. It wasn’t as though she didn’t love me nor were there any marital issues … but it just wasn’t computing for her.

The definition of a man for Denise (at the time) was for men to go off and do ‘man things’.

I love men. I love women. I love children. But I am comfortable enough in my own skin to know that I’d rather regenerate, replenish and nourish my soul and mind in the company of both genders (and different ages) than to do so solely with males my own age. I’ve got plenty of male friends — don’t get me wrong — and I enjoy the company of them, but ever since I can remember I knew my likes and dislikes. I loathed ‘stags’ I was invited to and went so far as to ask my Best Man if we could invite our better halves to the one that was organized for me. That didn’t pan out, for the record.

I asked myself the following question early on in my life, “Who Am I?” and I answered it by saying, “Who I Am.”

I don’t do golf. I don’t wear a watch. I don’t like cars. And I am not handy whatsoever.

Clearly, I’m not like the thousands of males who do golf, wear a watch, like cars and are handy. I respect those individuals, but I’m not envious or jealous. (OK, sometimes I wish I could build a tree fort)

The bottom line is that I do not pretend to be someone else. I’m happy for those that enjoy such endeavors and who excel in them outright. Kudos!

But I am secure with what I’m good at and uneasy if I’m not being me. It is a conscious choice. It is my moment of verisimilitude. I’m not simply saying you should ‘Play to Your Strengths‘; I’m suggesting you must ask the question, “Who Am I” and answer it with certitude, “Who I Am”.

I am not against learning — after all, Ancora Imparo is one of my life mantras — but I will not assimilate because society says I should.

This steadfast belief has helped me in my life, my career and with my relationships … including Denise. I share this personal insight with you for two reasons:

  1. Careers Can Become Your Purpose
    • By invoking conviction and absolute belief in one’s self, your career can truly become intertwined with your purpose. I witness first-hand, however, far too many people shackled to a job that runs counter to their identity and their personal ethos. I don’t suggest to ‘follow your passion’ — that’s a risky strategy when you need to pay bills and fuel your future — but I would recommend standing up for who you really are, and working towards a career path that belies the current career status quo you may be suffering from.
  2. Life is What Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans
    • John Lennon … no further words necessary.

The bonus reason is that I promised “I Will” reveal more of my true personality publicly in 2014.

It’s a shame we can’t travel back in time and observe the Greeks. If I could, I’d spend my days walking, listening, learning and even giving speeches in the Agora — the marketplace of commerce and intellectual exchange. Be it Plato, Socrates, Heraclitus or Pythagoras the maxim “Know Thyself” was alleged to be bandied about in the Agora on many an occasion. In Plato’s Phaedrus, for example, Socrates says the following when on the topic of his lack of patience for mythology and other unimportant topics:

“But I have no leisure for them at all; and the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things.”

cardsDefine your relevance.

More importantly, avoid your every irrelevance.

I am a husband. I am a father. I am a son. I am a brother. I am a brother-in-law. I am a son-in-law. I am a friend. I am a dreamer, writer, speaker, lover, artist, athlete, comedian, culture change agent, meat-eater, cyclist, traveler, poet, decorator, fashionista, supporter, thinker, mathematician, drinker, Canadian, driver … human being.

I am who I am.

Who are you?


'Who Am I? Who I Am.' have 3 comments

  1. 04/14/2014 @ 8:39 AM Johnny Bevacqua

    Hi Dan

    Let’s talk about golf….. Never mind ;)

    I enjoyed this post mainly because it speaks to integrity. I have always seen you as completely “comfortable in your skin” and seen that comfort be a foundation for you. You continue to be a role model in that regard. I also like how you have made it a goal to make yourself more vulnerable in your posts.

    Finally, you mention “relevance” in your post. Ever since I read Henri Nouwen, my take on relevance has been challenged. He talks about the need for Christian leaders to be, most times, “irrelevant” in order to do what is right. In others words: keeping up with the latest thinking or the “cutting edge” may not be the what’s required.

    Thanks again buddy. We should really meet up soon…..

  2. 04/14/2014 @ 10:37 AM Shane Johnson

    I am have been thinking about exactly this topic for quite awhile (triggered by my first child going of to college). In my musings, I came across this quote which made me think more about this topic but is helpful to me.

    “If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” from Thomas Merton

    I think your blog entry goes a long way in this way of thinking.

    Regards

  3. 04/22/2014 @ 2:05 PM Dan Pontefract

    @Johnny — I know you love golf, and I’d never knock that … it’s just not for me. But yes, what it comes down to is integrity. Something you have in spades. (and yes, let’s book a cafe or beer or reunion?)

    @Shane — What an excellent quote to contribute to this thread of integrity AND self identification. Thanks for sharing, and for dropping by.


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Dan Pontefract | dp at danpontefract dot com