"How would you describe yourself?"
We've all faced this question at some point in our lives- whether at a team meeting, in a social situation where we were amongst new people, or even at job interviews.
And although the question might seem quite straightforward, I always wonder why we default to the responses we usually go for.
Typically, you begin with your name, where you're from, and what you do for a living. Some of us will then add the years of experience we have in our chosen field, and then maybe a hobby or two. In some settings, if appropriate, you might add your religion or belief system.
But is that who you are as a person? Are those attributes what make you the unique being that you are? Are we all just a collection of labels that were imposed on us, or are we much more?
Personally, I've always had quite an identity crisis, particularly when people ask me where I'm from. My family is originally Palestinean, but like many Palestinean families, they left and settled in Lebanon. I was born in Beirut, but I grew up and lived in the United Arab Emirates for the majority of my life. I also have a Canadian passport.
So when you ask me where I'm from, I'll tell you I'm a Palestinean who has never been to Palestine, and that Abu Dhabi is my home, even though I'm not Emirati.
But I am much more than where I'm from. I'm my values, my beliefs, my traits, my interests. I'm a daughter, a sister, a cousin, and much more. And so are the rest of us. We all hold so many roles and attributes, that cannot simply be defined in a few sentences. We are an accumulation of our thoughts and of our life experiences.
So the next time someone asks you that question, do not default to the cliche response, tell them the things that truly make you the person that you are. Surprise them!