What defines you? This is a question you've no doubt been asked at some point in your life. And you have probably never given much thought to what you are truly being asked. As stated in Webster's Dictionary, the verb “define” means to identify the essential qualities or meaning of something.
Finding the meaning of something might as well be considered a universal hobby of every human being. We subject each other to this ritual, trying desperately to find a way to generalize our fellow man.
Most people define others with labels -- or more specifically social labels. We've done it as long as we've been alive and we do it without even thinking about it. Infants are programmed to see their parents as simply their caregivers and kids in secondary schools can immediately figure out who they would consider the “uncool” kids without thinking twice. As we leave childhood and become adults, we become a little bit less focused on social labels.
Instead, we become very sensitive to the characteristics that contribute to a label. I mean who hasn't seen a man driving a Porsche and immediately wanted to categorize him as “wealthy.” Or who hasn't seen a scantily-clad woman and automatically at face value labeled her as a “slut.”
But are these adjectives what truly define them? Can someone simply be defined by what clothes they wear or what car they drive? If you answered yes to that question it would be in your best interest to keep reading the rest of this article. It may seem like I'm putting all of the blame on the observer doing the labeling, but how we express to the world what qualities we feel are important also plays a big role.
It's almost instinct for us to want to show what we physically possess to achieve admiration from others. We know that no matter what we choose to advertise about ourselves, we will be judged anyway, so we choose to make the best of what we have.
While our superficial possessions do give people a slight idea of what our individual lives must be like, they by no means truly “define” us. A piece of clothing or a car does not add to the essential qualities of what it means to be a particular human being.
A human beings are not the shirts they are wearing and I'm sure that a lot of us wouldn't honestly describe ourselves that way either. But there are people who do define themselves simply by the image they try to project to the outside world.
Everyone has heard of the ever-present need to “Keep Up with the Joneses.” Well the problem with this is that there is no Jones family to keep up with. You can't keep up with an existential standard that doesn't exist and those that try are in serious danger of wasting their lives. Much like a hamster running on the wheel of life, chasing some impossible standard, life for them will forever go in circles.
There is nothing wrong with wanting luxury things and working to achieve those things.
By all means, rock those designer items you own! We need to be wary that the want for these items can be taken to a sad place. An obsession with the things you own can lead to your possessions being what possess you. And I've got to say, if you allow your cellphone or your couture clothes to run your life, it's going to make you look pathetic and pretty stupid.
People like to think that the clothes are what make the man. We need to start looking at it the other way around, as the man should make the clothes. An ensemble should look great because YOU are wearing it, not the other way around.
Once we move past the superficial, we can then determine what our true qualities are that define us. Consider the things you own to be purely accessory to what defines you. Instead of what we are trying to make define us, we need to focus on what does actually define us.
Finding what does define you is of course your own personal journey, not anyone else's. Others around you will never stop judging at face value, but thankfully if you're smart enough and strong enough, you can be confident enough not to care.
Samantha Nelson | Elite. Photo Credit: Tumblr