“I’ve been thrown out of lots of places,” she said proudly. “I’m a New Yorker.”

It didn’t matter that she sat 2,000 miles away in an assisted living community in Olympia, Washington. 

Or that she’s lived in Washington since ‘87.

You would have thought she just ate a slice and was about to take the subway.

Man, I thought.

More than 30 years and her first thought was still, “I’m a New Yorker.”

That’s the power of identity.

The way she owned hers made me question my own, though “I’m a Midwesterner” has as much zest as my morning oatmeal.

I questioned whether there was anything I say about myself that I feel so fiercely.

In uncovering my own identities, I went through a few questions:

How do I describe myself to others?

What do I say after “I’m a…?”

A few options include introvert, extrovert, reader, desert flower, giver, runner, listener, saver, bad b, thinker, doer, self-help junkie.

These statements are so powerful. They’re a look into not only how you view yourself, but how you want to be seen by others. 

Even further, your identities define who you think you can be. 

The hiccup here is many identities are limiting. 

If you’re an introvert, it’s easier to write off hanging out in the background at the family reunion in your “I shook my family tree and a bunch of nuts came out” t-shirt. (Also, fair enough.)

But if it’s keeping you from making important changes or believing you can attain deeper goals, it’s a problem. One you might not even notice.

So pay attention to the words following your next “I’m a….” and consider whether they’re limiting you in any way. 

Unlike my New Yorker friend, you might want to change them. 


To being better without ever calling yourself a self-help junkie,