If you’re like me, you can recall many times that you were rejected in your lifetime. We’ve all felt rejection. The job you applied for but you were told that someone else received it because you lacked experience. The promotion that you were working towards, that someone “less qualified” received. The line of credit that you needed at the time, but your credit score was less than stellar. The man or woman that told you that you didn’t make enough money, drive a nice enough car or physically appeal to them. I’ve been there, too. I was there myself yesterday…last month…last year.
I’ve learned that the other person’s opinion of your worth is just their opinion. Every person has an idea in their mind before you walk through the door of what they want and expect. They want you to live up to their idea and expectations, before they even see you. Often their ideas and expectations can’t be altered because they are unwilling to compromise. That is fine. Everything ain’t for everybody. There are those rare occasions when you will walk through the door and someone will think you are everything they want; you’re the ideal employee to fill that position, the right fit for that promotion, the type of person they want a relationship with. Whether you meet a person’s expectations or not doesn’t define you or your worth. Only you can do that.
You start defining yourself by knowing what your gifts are. Everyone has skills and talents bestowed upon them. Some of us have had them nurtured by our parents and teachers at a young age, so we are well aware of what those skills and talents are. Some of us have been downtrodden by life and told that we are less than what God made us to be, therefore we’ve never examined our full potential. Either way, it’s never too late to nurture what you have been given. Allow your talents and skills to be honed and you begin redefining your life. A couple of years ago, I attended an event where I heard Susan L. Taylor, Editor Emerita of Essence Magazine speak. She said one thing that stuck with me to this day, “Everyone is here on purpose, with purpose”.
You also define yourself by what you do, even when no one is looking. Your integrity is an essential part of who you are. Crowd pleasers and “Yes Men” have to rely on the thoughts of others for their survival and success. Are you a follower who does what others do, even when you know it’s wrong? Do you have an opinion behind closed doors, but when you’re allowed the opportunity to speak up and make changes, you slink in the corner? Or are you a leader, who sets an example of what should be done because it’s the right thing to do, who isn’t afraid to speak up for the greater good, even when others rise against you? My grandfather, Leon L. Jones, raised me until he died when I was twelve. One of the household principles he instilled in me was a twist on a well known phrase. Back in the day, people who were trying to live above their means or pretended to have greater financial worth than they actually did in order to impress others were considered as “trying to keep up with the Joneses”. My grandfather instilled in me that “We don’t have to keep up with the Joneses, because we are the Joneses. Everybody else has to keep up with us”. I live by that. As a result I strive to set myself apart from others and be the best example I can be, even when no one else is looking.
Your definition includes your confidence. Regardless of your size, shape or age, you should make being healthy and confident a goal in your life and sustain it. It’s a recurring theme in the health industry; exercise improves the feeling of well being, improves stamina, mental clarity and lowers blood pressure. People who exercise regularly, regardless of how stressful their environment is, have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower cortisol levels, are “happier” and more successful in their endeavors than people who do not. Your health contributes to how your feel about yourself. And how you feel about yourself determines how others react towards you. If you are viewed as meek, afraid, and easily intimidated, often you will not be taken seriously, you will not be given opportunities by decision makers and you are more likely to be mistreated, or victimized. Unless there is a million dollars paving the street in front of you, you shouldn’t walk around with your head down. A person who walks with their head held up proudly, not only will see that million dollars on the ground, but they will see it sooner than you will because they are looking ahead, instead of down.
Who you surround yourself with also defines you. Do you have friends whom, although they are different from you, they are encouraging and supportive of you? Will they tell you when you are wrong and stand beside you when you are right? Are they trustworthy? Are they consistent? It is said that “you are defined by the company that you keep”. If you look at your inner circle of friends and you see yourself surrounded by people who are unsuccessful, lack ambition, complain about everything but never offer a solution, or possess other traits that are those of people who will cause you to be defined poorly, you first need to assess what type of person you are, the type of person you prefer to be, then you need to get new friends. You won’t likely change the minds or lives of these types of people in your life with words; therefore, if you can’t change your friends, you need to change your friends. Surround yourself with others who will “upgrade” your way of thinking, people you can learn from who are also encouraging of you and your success. When you do this, you will see your definition improve.
These are just basic suggestions for initially defining yourself. There are other aspects that contribute to who you are and who you want to be as a person, including financial, spiritual, and emotional. Once you’ve started this process with the basics, the other elements will follow. You are a multi-dimensional person and every aspect of you is equally important. How you choose to define yourself overall, is important and reflective of the person you decide to be.