"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Do We Know Who We Are?

Without getting too existential – Who are we?

And what is it that we want to communicate about ourselves; about what we observe? Who are we as bloggers and writers (I use the terms interchangably – after all bloggers do “write”).

In the musical Les Miserables based on Victor Hugo’s great novel about the French Revolution, Jean Valjean, the hero, asks the question, “Who am I?” twice. There are two answers in this amazing song:

“Who am I?Les Mis Valjean Colm Wilkinson who am I
I’m Jean Valjean!”

And yet, he’s also an ex-convict:

“Who am I?

Jean Valjean knows who he is – he’s both.

The more we write, the more we need to define who we are. Does it get murkier, or is it becoming clearer the more we evaluate ourselves, our stories, and our internal struggles?

As you continue writing, keep asking yourself this important question:


Remember, The Who asked this important question back in 1978, and we now hear it at the beginning of the tv show, CSI:

Who Are You? youtube.com

Who Are You? The Who – Wikipedia

Have you asked yourself this question as a blogger/writer?


  1. Andra Watkins says:

    In the beginning, my writing had no point. Sometimes, I still wonder if it does.

    I never think about who I am as a writer. Maybe more people would read me if I did. I have always just tried to be who I really am, translated into the written word. Sometimes, that speaks to people, and sometimes it doesn’t. As long as it is fun, I’ll keep doing it.

  2. Jodi Aman says:

    Totally! I’ve been working on my about page, and how I want to identify myself. Let people know in a moment what I offer them. It’s taken me 6 months to get this far, and it’s still evolving!

    • I know what you mean, Jodi. I’ve been at blogging for eight months or so, and I’m always trying to zero in on who I am and what I want to communicate, but still being “me.”

      I think you’re doing a great job and you definitely know who you are!

  3. MJ, I ponder this question every day. Each time I get ready to throw my blog in a new direction (which happens with every post) I wonder, is this the best choice? Is this me? Is this my true voice?

    I’m not sure any of us can fully answer that question. But equally, I’m not sure any of us should. Because I believe we need to keep growing and changing or we just — stop. Stop believing, stop hoping, stop learning.

    Finding out who you are is something that should take all your days. Now I’m getting existential. So let me flip it — who are you? :)

    • “Because I believe we need to keep growing and changing or we just — stop. Stop believing, stop hoping, stop learning.” Great thoughts, Melissa.

      I think about this every day, too. Your writing does have your voice, so I think you are definitely in touch with who you are.

      As I get clearer about my writing and my relationships, I believe I get better in touch with who I am. I used to let my career define me, but that’s the last thing that defines me now. There are parts of what I’ve done that are “who I am,” but my career is not who I am. Hope that makes sense.

  4. Sunshine says:

    Haha! Love “I yam who I yam” from Ted’s comment box!
    I enjoyed Les Miserables with Liam Neeson as well as the musical but getting back to your question, as a blogger/writer I do in a round about way ask who am I with each post. I mean, how can you not unless you write without thinking. Hmmn. I think I do that when I’m so tired and trying to come up with a post! :(
    My inner voice taps me on the shoulder and whispers make sure you send out something one can find value or at least humor in. Ha! Even if that one person is just me!
    Thanks again, MJ!

    • A big part of who you are is just in your encouragement, smile (I can actually see you smiling, BTW!), the name alone is pure Sunshine!

      I think most of us who do this, do exactly what you say: we are always thinking about our voice as we write.

      Always a pleasure to see your sun on this here blog, my friend!

  5. I don’t give it too much thought. I know who I’ve been, what I’ve done and not done. I know who I am right now. I have no plan. My blog is for my personal enjoyment, and for anyone who cares to look, friend or stranger. I’ve reached a stage in life, where I have decided to try the things I have always thought would be fun to do. Writing was one of them. And now, all the others will be material for my blog.

    I think if I were a professional writer, or a writer who took a more serious view of life, I might wonder and think it important.

    I have a friend, who was aghast that I would open up my life publicly. Why would I let people know I am in love with a woman who has been dead almost 100 years and I have only seen in an oil painting? Or that I worship Jennifer Garner? “That’s embarrassing” she said. I said, “No, that’s what makes people interesting, and I have no problem sharing what I enjoy”. What I write about, is what interests me, tied to memories. I am especially proud of a couple of my posts… ‘Nightmare’ and the ‘Amy Winehouse’ one.

    Besides, I’m 68… as Popeye said… “I yam who I yam”.

    • Ted, I love your spirit. I am just about to the point where you are. You sound very comfortable in your own skin, and that’s the best thing about knowing who you are. At least in my opinion.

      I’m with you on opening myself up on my blog. I too, write about what interests me and sometimes it’s personal, other times, not. I will have to check out the posts you mention above. Great comments, Ted!

  6. This is my jam! Goodness, am I a sucker for Les Mis. I am also a sucker for existentialism so let us become like mystics and explore the Who (but not the band, although that song does remind me of mother and brings back memories of watching CSI and every week her saying “I just love Grisham!”)… Okay that was not the point of my comment but I feel it best to leave it with just that :)

    • Cool! I was fortunate enough to see Les Mis in London twice, and then again a few times in the US with the touring companies. It’s my favorite story of redemption and probably my favorite musical as well. So many times, a movie, a book, a tv show point us in directions that help us dial in how we feel about who we are. Life is certainly interesting.

      And Grisham was a great character – mom was right!

  7. Hi MJ!

    When I first started my blog I found this really hard to answer. As I’ve hit the 20 post mark I’ve found my voice more and more. Who I am is a writer and I have a writer’s perspective. Where other’s can poo poo the writing I have to come at it with all my passion.


    • Great to see you again. I lost touch with so many people in the transition to the new site, but WordPress figured out how to get them back about a week ago, thankfully.

      Continue on your own path, and define yourself. Why is it that other people want to say who we are? You are definitely on the right track, my friend.

  8. Hi,
    I am just your average Aussie, that is what is said on my About page, and that is exactly who I am. 😀
    I suppose you could throw in “old girl” as well. 😆

  9. For me it keeps changing. I’m still trying to get back to my “self” that I lost/forgot about along ago. I do think blogging helps!

  10. Can the question ever be answered for I am not the same person I was a month ago and certainly not a decade ago? Perhaps it can be identified by what we have done.

  11. Good question, MJ. The answer seems so big that I’m not sure how to answer it. I realize I am not really defined by the things that I do– career, relationships, hobbies, appearance, etc. What I do know is that blogging has helped me to expand who I am. I know have more creativity and some new hobbies, and I have a voice. Those things make me feel more like who I am, whoever that is!

    • I’m kind of in that same boat, my friend. I’m always trying to fine tune who I am – or at least who I think I am. Blogging has definitely helped me find my voice, but it will continue to evolve, as I have as a person.

      Maybe the best question is “Who am I, today?”

  12. >WHO ARE YOU?
    – Since you asked, I realised I haven’t ever thought deeply about that because I think it would make my head hurt. I’m not the philosophical sort.

    Instead, I choose to focus on who I am to the following every day:

    Myself: Am I true to myself?

    My family: Am I a dutiful relative?

    My friends: Am I the kind they want in their lives?

    My employer: Am I giving them more than they bargained for (in a good way, of course) in that final interview?

    Strangers I interact with on a daily basis: Did I make their lives easier? (With a smile, a ‘Please’, Thank you’, ‘Sorry’, a compliment, a suggestion, a helpful gesture like holding the door, offering my seat on the bus, etc.)

    Animals I encounter: Did I pet the ones I could? (This is more for the kicks I get than their happiness. *grin*) Did I speak kindly to ones I couldn’t? (That is, the strays or the aggressive ones.)

    Mother Earth: Did I cause her to bleed a little less?

    I agree with Eckhart Tolle when he said the following:

    “The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications.

    None of these is you.”

    Oh, and sometimes you say I’m KK (Kantakerous Kate).

    (Happy) Kate

    • Ooh, I love your questions to yourself, each day, Kate! I think there is a small percentage of people who don’t try to give their employer their best.

      Manners are essential, as well. I love your please and thank you’s! And being kind to animals is so cool. You sound like MLB in so many ways. She is mannered – indeed, to a fault!! She ushers at church (and even “ushers” to help people at the movie theater, restaurant, etc.). Along with busing her own table at a restaurant!

      The Eckhart Tolle quote is fabulous. As I read it, I thought, “No, these shouldn’t be what defines us.” And then it got to the, “None of these is you.” Wow, that is powerful!!

      As usual, you definitely know who you are! Thanks for your intuitive comments, Kate!

  13. “Remember, The Who asked this important question back in 1978, and we now hear it at the beginning of the tv show, CSI”

    HA! That seriously made me laugh out loud! :)

    Who am I? I’m a book addict.

    Wow, saying that somehow felt like therapy (admitting you have a problem is the first step etc) Hehe. :)

  14. iiiyiiiyiii can’t resist the first urge to be ‘cheeky’ ~ “Oh heck Monaghan, it’s just good to have hobbies (twitter and now uh, blogging).”
    * * *
    Seriously, I have heard of people who know who they are as they exited the womb from whence they came. I was not one of them. I spent years in ‘arrested development’. The journey to ‘who am I’ was endlessly running the ‘rabbit trails’ of my mind & circumstances. I actually did have regrets to the decades I spent in ‘arrested development’. I have come to ‘peace’ with that and have forgiven myself for my vast unawares. I now experience the hope and promise of further evolving as a human being.
    * * *
    I urge all people, but especially the young to find the foundation of ‘who you are’. It may be as simple a beginning as deciding what you like and what you dislike. For I now see as in ‘the way things currently are’ in this world ~ having a core knowing of ‘who you are’ is a vital component as to what ambitions and goals you may reach. In saying this I also ‘exclaim’ “Balance!” ~

    One example: I see so many young young people who say “this is all I ever wanted to do” on the television music contest shows. I hear “this is the only thing meant for me”. Some can sing well, others not so much, in the end there can only be one winner. While I want folks to dream the dreams of who they think they are, not everybody is intended to be a ‘superstar’. If music is the route you wish to take, would you please practice your musicality, grow your skill, increase your artistry and ask yourself ~ “Can I be satisfied if this path only allows me to make a living in this industry?” Followed by “If I cannot make a living in this industry, can I survive the disappointment, draw upon the core of who I am and take another path.”
    * * *
    Here it is Michael, and yet another novel I have written in what is supposed to be the comment section. Have a wonderful week my friend!

    • I love your comments, Kaye! They are so thoughtful, and give me pause to consider all that you have stated.

      I agree with you so much about the singing shows – and other talent-type shows – on tv: “It’s EVERYTHING.” “I’ve worked my whole life for this!” [You’re only 16, come on!]. If the goal or dream is only being a superstar, we’re going to have a LOT of bitter, disappointed people in 20 years. Your question, “Can I be satisfied …” is a great one!

      Don’t beat yourself up over arrested development, my friend. Be glad you’re where you are today. I’m not old, old, but at 53 and starting my first blog, sure I wish I would have done it sooner. But that’s not how it is, so I move on. I know what you mean, though.

      I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! I never knew all along that I wanted to be __________ (fill in the blank). Would have been nice, huh? I’ll just keep doing what’s fun and challenging, and relating to great people like you!

      Looks like my reply ran a bit long as well, Kaye! 😉

  15. Meladjusted says:

    I am. My favourite shortest sentence and so applicable with my God complex.

    Frivolity aside, does it matter? I suppose it does when you start altering lives and changing the fabric of reality – then the question will probably and hopefully be, Am I making a difference for the better? If so, carry on. If not, be prepared for the backlash.

    MJ – such existentialism on a Monday evening? Thanks, I was just going to watch Survivor….

    • Ah, Survivor – existentialism at its finest!

      Love your question back – Am I making a difference for the better? Great question. It can be answered in so many ways, as well.

  16. Judy Berman says:

    In answer to your question, I’m still trying to figure that out.

  17. Weirdly enough as I work through revisions, I realize how much of myself I’ve been working through on the page. I’m in every character and every situation and scene. Bits of me scattered across an entire world I created. And when I step back I go “Oh that’s what I was really talking about there.” It’s kinda cool. I think I’ve gotten more comfortable with myself through writing. Accepting my faults and my character’s imperfections and loving myself and them more for them. :)

    • Very well said, Kourtney. Self-realization, self-evaluation, and getting more comfortable in your own skin.

      I”m going through that process as I blog as well.

  18. Oh, the dreaded “who are you” question. I struggle with that one all the time. I agree with Carl in that who we are is constantly evolving as a result of our experiences.

    I think my blog attest to the fact that I am still in the discovery stage. Thanks for taxing my brain. LOL I’m just kidding my friend. 😀

  19. Deep thoughts, but yes, I find I’m on a similar journey. I might ask the question a bit differently…I pose the inquiry, “What do i want to accomplish?” “Is this doing it?” That guides me. Who I am keeps changing on the fringes. What I want to do…that gets stronger and as it does, so does my voice. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Thanks for making us think about it.

    • You are ever-insightful, Barb!

      Good point about “is this doing it?”

      I really like the Ghandi quote. Everyone wants to do something big, but typically it starts right where we are.

  20. prabat parimal says:

    I probably do it but the echo is always difficult to understand.

  21. I know EXACTLY who I am and I like em

    • Hmm, Ellen, sounds like you have more than one “Ellen” in your head. I have that same issue. And I talk back to the different me’s inside my head, all the time! hehe

  22. Hey, MJ… I attended the ‘Gauguin Polynesia’ showing at the Seattle Art Museum yesterday. Paul Gauguin painted, probably his most famous painting in 1897, the title of which is… Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

    I thought of you.

  23. MJ… I attended the ‘Gauguin Polynesia’ showing at the Seattle Art Museum yesterday. Paul Gauguin painted, probably his most famous painting in 1897, the title of which is… Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

    I thought of you.

  24. RalphLockwood says:

    “Who” we are is largely irrelevant, in my opinion. The core readership of my blog decides who I am. It’s their perception that defines me regardless of my prose attempts to influence their “image” of me.

    • Very interesting take on “Who am I,” Ralph. It could define who they think you are, yes, but can it define who you really are?

      Like this thought-provoking comment. Please reply with your blog link, and I will check it out.


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