“Who do men say that I am?” – Jesus Christ
That question was asked over 2000 years ago, and the answer still sounds as confusing as it did back then. The disciples of Jesus had many answers to that question, and interestingly, so does the world today. Different world religions and even Christian sects view Jesus differently. Some see him as a prophet, some as a guru and some as the Son of God. I have always thought that the true test of identity is alignment in the opinions of all who watch, but that is wrong. It’s not the views of those that watch that counts, it’s the core theme or purpose for which that individual lives. Identity is not crafted from the outward activities, it’s developed for the inward values and underlying life themes.
Many on the quest of creating a unique identity, have converted themselves into zombies. You were not designed to be one thing to everybody. Your identity is not what they call you, they’ll call you many things, it is not the job you are doing, you’ll leave it one day, it’s not your clothes or your haircut, all these are subject to change. You true identity is the core and fundamental reason why you do everything else that you do, it’s your theme, your compass.
People will relate with you at different levels, some will relate with you based on your past – is he/she not the carpenters son or daughter, some based on what they can see – he’s blaspheming, and yet some based on a revelation of your life’s underlying theme. It’s your responsibility to understand your true identity, like my friend says, when you know this, you don’t owe anybody an explanation, you owe them manifestation. Don’t allow anybody to cage2 you into an activity driven definition (I am an accountant, I work with Enron, I am a brother to 2Face e.t.c.), you are bigger than that. You can do anything you want and truly enjoy to do, you can be yourself, if your underlying theme has excellence in it’s mix, you’ll end up well.
My mother said to me, “If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general; if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.” Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” -Pablo Picasso
I remember one of the early day apostles saying he wanted to be all things to all men, so that he can by all means save some. Your identity will be perceived differently by different people, your underlying purpose must be clear to you. After Jesus asked the question above, he want further to ask his close friends, “who do you say that I am?” The perspective of the people who are close to you, matters more than the voice of the distant majorities. I remember when I was exiting from university education, I asked my friends a similar question, “what do you think I’m good at?” The response of your friends shouldn’t be the basis of setting your compass, but they can help you confirm it.
Don’t let the world box you into one boring role based on their assertions about your identity. Feel free to follow your passions, live your values, express your principles and fulfill your dreams. I left university as one of the top students in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, when I announced that I would not practice Engineering but rather go for what would help me participate in developing people – HR, people thought I was a sellout. I had friends who called me to ask why I was wasting so much engineering talent on a mundane social sciences career. I ventured all the same, and won international awards for system innovation, international recognition as top 2% in the field and national awards for young professional of the year 2006. I remember what my Dad told me when I told him of my decision to channel my engineering strengths towards people development. I quote, ” Deolu, helping people has brought you this far, and I have no doubts it will take you further, go for it”. That’s my underlying theme, helping people succeed.
“All the world is a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and entrances;
Each man in his time plays many parts.”
The list of what people say about you, like they do about me, may be long. You can find an exhaustive list of perspectives about me, by just going to www.google.com and searching for either of Adeolu Akinyemi, Deolu Akinyemi or deoluakinyemi.com. Like me, you need to find your mission/theme, and give it undying commitment.
In closing let me wrap this up with something I learnt yesterday
If your target is popularity, your identity will become a mirror, reflecting whatever needs to be reflected to gain the applause of the majority and acceptance, you’ll be everyone, and no one.
If your target is pleasure, your identity becomes that of a carnival thrill seeker, alive only in bright lights around green and brown bottles, wild rides and titillating entertainment. With lustful fever, you’ll race from one ride to another, satisfying insatiable passions for sensations only long enough to look for another.
If your target is power, your identity becomes that of a wolf, prowling, hunting and stalking the elusive game. Recognition becomes your key prey, and people your prize. Your quest becomes endless and as a result you become to an animal, an insatiable scavenger, controlled not by will from withing, but by luring from without.
The end result to seeking any of these three is the same, painful unfulfillment. Only in seeking ones maker does a man truly become a man. For in seeing his creator man catches a glimpse of what he was intended to be. He who would see his God would then see the reason for death and the purpose of time. Destiny? Tomorrow? Truth? All are questions within the reach of the man/woman who knows his/her source. (Culled from God Came Near by Max Lucado)