Who Are You? 21 Questions for Self-Discovery.
Who are you? Wait! Before you answer that question, I want you to…
Drop the title and job position at your place of work. Yep. Gone.
Lose your role as Dad or Mom. Just for a minute.
Also gone is husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Buh-bye.
And brother, sister, uncle, aunt, friend, neighbor. Let those go too.
Remove that you’re the coach of your child’s little league baseball team or soccer mom, or that you were the captain of your college team or valedictorian of your graduating class in high school.
For right this moment, you’re not the alumna of University X or the proud member of fraternity Pi or sorority Delta.
Strip away any layer of personhood that was earned or granted you until you lay bare, just self.
Feels a little bit like disrobing doesn’t it? You might even be thinking there’s not much left of you when you remove all of those labels, roles, positions, titles, and accomplishments. But there is. There’s you. You’re underneath it all, and it’s so important to discover that person again, discover who you are before you put back on all the things you just removed.
Your self-identity. Who are you?
Who were you before people and society started telling you who you were? And because we are always in a state of becoming, who are you today and what is emerging?
Let’s go on a self-discovery journey. Here are 21 questions that are all about you finding You. I want you to take each question and give it the time you need to get to the answer that goes beneath the surface. Ask “Why?” And “What does this answer say about me and what matters to me?” “How have these questions and answers shaped me, my understanding of self, of the world and my place in it?”
For example, if the question is, “What is your favorite color?” Don’t just stop at “Red.” Why is red your favorite color? What does that color mean to you? What values do you associate with the color red? What does it say about you, your personality, or an experience you’ve had? For me, red is one of my favorite colors. I think of passion, boldness, and breaking through fears and barriers. Those qualities speak to me and are how I aspire to live my life. Red is symbolic of an alter ego piercing through the introverted and reserved Tonya. The Tonya that is more likely to show up as navy blue. Red is Tiger Woods. Red is women activists. Red is Michelle Obama. Red is confidence, power and enthusiasm. Red is a reminder of my whole self, the part that is emerging and a part of myself that deserves to be expressed through me.
You see what I mean? There’s so much more underneath the first answer you’ll give to the question. Take your time with them. Explore and play with the question before you move on.
Assuredly, some of your answers will deliver aha’s that were not conscious to you. Have fun, but in a meaningful kind of way.
- What qualities do you most admire in yourself?
- What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
- Where do you go when you need peace and quiet? (real or imagined; physical or emotional)
- Who/What makes you laugh from the pit of your belly?
- What is a consistent daydream?
- What is the perfect day for you?
- What’s usually on your shopping list, but you never buy for yourself?
- What is the first thing you think about when you awake in the morning?
- What are three things you must do before you die?
- What are two transition points in your life that taught you the most?
- What cause will you fight for until the end of your days?
- What contributions have you made to improve the world, small or great?
- What genre magazines, movies, or books do you find yourself consuming most?
- What in nature takes your breath away?
- What is your favorite song of all time?
- What is your favorite quote of all time?
- What features do you tend to notice first in a person?
- What are your top 5 values you consider non-negotiables?
- What inspires you to get up every morning?
- What are 3 of your favorite words or phrases that move you every time you speak/hear them?
- What do you do to reenergize your soul when you’re tired or feeling low?
I stopped at 21. It was hard not to keep going, but these 21 questions are more than enough to put you on the path of self-discovery. In a world where we have obligations to others and so many hats to wear, we sometimes lose ourselves. This exercise is to help you and me regain parts of ourselves we’ve lost or ignored, and to stay in touch with our whole selves. When we know who we are, we can be better in all the other roles and relationships we take on, and in the dreams and goals we have for our lives.
You may gather up all the self-identifying things I asked you to lay aside for this exercise. If it worked, you’ll even see those differently than you did at the start of your reading.
I leave you with these quotes. May they underscore why this self-discovery journey is an important one.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ~ Aristotle
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” ~ Ralph Ellison
“At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are, and you know what you want.” ~ Lao Tzu
“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” ~ Rumi
Like what you’re reading? Click here to read more like this. May is Self-Discovery Month and there will a new article each week to support your journey to knowing your inner self.