#SOL18 Who We Are, Who We Are Not

Summer has brought about more time for reading. So far this summer, I read Liane Moriarty's The Hypnotist's Love Story and Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You The Sun. I'm also reading Sara K Ahmed's Being the Change. All of these books together are making me think about identity and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and who we are not.

When I was younger, I defined myself by what I was "good at" and "bad at." I also thought in comparisons- if my sister was stronger at math than me, it meant she was good at math and I was bad at it. I've assigned traits to myself and also cut myself off from many things because "I'm not the kind of person who..." fill in the blank (cooks well, entertains well, has a good eye for decorating, is crafty, etc.)

All of the learning I've done around growth mindset has made me question these long-time beliefs. What if I'm not bad at math? Just because someone has a strength, does that mean I have a weakness? What if I can learn to cook better? What if I stopped creating limiting beliefs about who I am and who I could become? 

Tonight I'm thinking about making space for possibilities about ourselves in own heart and mind.  "I can't" or "I'm not" is just a story we are telling ourselves. Maybe there is another story we can write. Maybe we can help our students see this earlier, so they don't have to wait until they are 39 like me to realize we are all a work in progress. But it's the progress that counts, moving forward and believing you can be what you dream to be. 

What have you told yourself that you are not? What have you labeled yourself that might not be true? Can you imagine being the person you would be without the rules you set up for yourself about who you are? 


  1. You've put a finger on one reason I value this slicing habit. Reflecting and writing routinely means "making space for possibilities." It also means I now label myself a writer more reliably :)

  2. The stories we create for ourselves, about ourselves ... what danger lies there, what paralysis, what complacency ...everything from being too afraid to try to telling ourselves, "So what, I really don't care" (sour grapes attitude). This is a powerfully reflective post; your courage really does roar here in the writing of it! I so admire your brave and open heart.

  3. You've made me stop and think about the labels I was given, and those I gave myself. Sometimes they are used as a "free pass" to get out of a hard task (I'm the smart one, so it's okay if I'm not great in PE). Not to say that we need to take on every single challenge--that would be exhausting--but it does help us to remove the limiters if we decide to pursue another path. Thanks for the insightful post!

  4. Interesting connections. Important work. As I grow older, I've discovered how easily I give up on things. I'm working on sticking with things and paying attention to myself as a learner. Questioning those long held beliefs we hold about ourselves is a powerful practice!

  5. I agree with Fran that this is a powerfully reflective post. You have come to that point in life where you have learned that you can write or rewrite your own story. I remember reaching that point and how liberating it was to learn that lesson. For me it was the outcome of my participation in an Artist's Way book group at age 60! So you see, you are a fast learner and years ahead of me in enlightenment. I've watched you become so many things just in the past few years, and you are so good at all of them. I can't wait to see what hats you'll wear next! (Not that you need any more...you're way ahead of the curve!)

  6. What a thoughtful post - I'm glad I found it as I head to bed. Reading Carol Dweck's Mindset and parenting have both led me to reflect on this question - and it's one I keep coming back to. In what ways do I limit myself by my own stories? I'm reading Being the Change, too (though I'm behind - ack!) and your questions feel powerful to me. Also, as a side note, I just finished The Hypnotist's Love Story a few weeks ago!

  7. I love this post- a great reminder to us as teachers for sure to walk the walk. We can not teach growth mindset (or anything really) if we do not believe it. Summer time is a great time to reflect on what we truly believe and how we can take steps to move toward the person we would like to be.


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