who are you?

I had the great pleasure of going to see Eat, Pray, Love with some lovely friends last night.

There is much I could write–about the movie, about the book, about my friends, even about Southdale AMC offering $5 tickets on weeknights–but today I wanted to focus on one simple question.

Who are you?

In the movie, an Italian friend points out to Liz/Julia that a writer is actually what she does, not who she is. And so she had not actually answered his question when she responded by saying that she was a writer.

We do have a tendency to answer questions about who we are with information about our families, our occupations, our educations, our possessions, don’t you think? But do these details describe who we actually are?

This conversation reminded me that when I was at my very lowest low, when I couldn’t even get out bed because of crippling depression, I came face-to-face with this big question. Because I was unable to do anything except exist, I could no longer define myself by what I could accomplish, by my winning conversational skills, by my career or children, by how much money I made, by how much I could do for others.

I could no longer distract myself into thinking that I was merely the sum of the things that surrounded me.

So…in that place of lowest low, I had no choice but to drop my masks. To remove the shaky scaffolding that was holding me in place.

Rachel, who are you?

As I stared with confusion at these four words written on a blank page, as I was trimmed down to the very barest form of myself, a transformation slowly took hold. I began to absorb the astounding truth that I was of value and worthy of love, even if I never accomplished another thing ever again. Even if I stayed in bed with depression for the rest of my life.

This was a hard truth to learn, but it unlocked many prison doors for me.

If you could no longer define yourself through your job, your family, your home, your possessions, your education, your physical health–perhaps even your name–who would you say that you are?

Would you have value?

Would you recognize yourself?

Would you hold your head high or try to hide?

Ask yourself: Without all of the external titles and acquisitions to define you, who are you?