Who Are You? I Really (Really) Wanna Know

The other day, I was approaching a particularly steep hill at the end of my run when a song on my Spotify playlist made me stop in my tracks:

“Who are you? Who who, who who?”

Now, normally, I don’t stop for hills. In fact, I relish them. But lately, I’m allowing myself to pause and reflect — and sometimes redirect — when something interesting catches my attention. And that question, “Who are you?” is definitely a “something interesting” I’ve been grappling with lately.

The Who, Who Are You

People are multi-faceted. I’m not sure that we can easily categorize nor characterize ourselves as just one thing. Yes, I am a CMO. I’m also a mother, an athlete, a dog lover. But, there are hidden aspects of me that I’m only now comfortable bringing to light. And they go far beyond my love of dystopian novels and secret reality tv binges.

You see, I suffer from imposter syndrome and anxiety. And, for a very long time, I was self-conscious. Self-conscious that I don’t have an Ivy League education. Embarrassed that some of the passions I have don’t exactly scream “CMO” or “executive.” Still a little ashamed that there have been so many times earlier in my career when I was afraid to speak up or ask a question for fear of looking stupid.

As I sat catching my breath at the base of that hill, I had a revelation: Some of my hidden characteristics are the very same ones that help me “think outside the box” to spur creativity, passion, and drive. (And isn’t the strength that comes from lifting so many weights the same strength that gets me through difficult times?)

Then, why do I sometimes feel the need to “be” someone else? To live up to some unrealistic expectation that others may have of me?
And then I realized — we all do it. We all want to put on the absolute best face possible so that others don’t think less of us. And with social media often our first line of communication, it can be all too easy to project a polished persona that has little to do with who we really are.

The way I see it, we are living through one of the most challenging eras in history. But, it may also prove to be one of the most transformative. In fact, I recently saw a piece where a woman changed her LinkedIn profile photo because the one she had chosen first was too flawless, too staged. Now, after all she’d been through, she wanted to be “seen.”

So, who are you? If you, like me, are pondering that most “classic rock” of questions, here are a few simple suggestions:

1. Take that smart woman’s advice and change your LinkedIn profile picture. (Or wherever your profile picture exists.) Look for one that lets people “see” you. In these times, people want to connect with other people again — for real. What unique quality do you have that can be captured in a lens?

2. Find a way to honor your past. We often ignore painful memories or even hide our humble origins. But our stories are what make us strong. What do you need to make peace with? And what real experiences could you share as a mentor?

Check in on your current trajectory. Does your work reflect your passions, values, and strengths? In a perfect world, our work reflects who we are. But let’s be real — economic necessities and life’s challenges can get in the way. If you’re in a rut, start taking small steps to break out. How are you spending your free time? Is there a like-minded community you can join?

Of course, these are just a few ways to become more of your true self. I’d love to hear your ideas, too.

And remember, it’s okay to pause, reflect — and sometimes redirect — as life changes and grows.

You just might find your “real” self at the summit — or even the base — of your very next hill.



Chief Marketing Officer at Skillsoft