What I learned: Don’t be who you are. Be who you want to be.

As millennials, since our youth, our society has been drilling messages into us such as “Be yourself.” “Be true to yourself.” As a result, we’ve become a generation that feels entitled to do what we want when we want, expecting the world to adapt to us.

As millennials, since our youth, our society has been drilling messages into us such as “Be yourself.” “Be true to yourself.” As a result, we’ve become a generation that feels entitled to do what we want when we want, expecting the world to adapt to us. This is echoed in our pop culture, encouraging us with, “Just be who you are. Don’t change a thing,” to figure out who we are, be true to it, and defend it to the last when someone tries to “tear us down” because there’s nothing wrong with us; it’s just all in their heads. While that builds up self-esteem, I’ve learned that it’s not the most conducive - I rephrase, it’s counterproductive to any forward motion that we want in our lives. We’ve been conditioned to listen to and accept only positive comments that build up our self-esteem and disregard the rest, especially negative or mean, hurtful comments. We’ve been told that it’s important to be strong in who we are. True, while we can’t please everyone or change to suit everyone else’s needs and wants, there may be truth behind some people that we see as attacking or insulting us; as tactlessly as they present their points, paying attention to some of it may result in take-away lessons that benefit us in the long run. Strength may come in defending ourselves to the last, but wisdom comes in impartially taking feedback (constructive or destructive), recognizing when we can use it for the better, and incorporating it into our lives even when it was initially hurtful. Self-esteem is something we’ve been taught to hold paramount as an integral part of good mental health, but taken in the wrong way, it interferes with the benefits of working together and conceding as we believe that we must “be ourselves” even to the point of digging our heels in just for the sake of winning an argument instead of being open to a higher solution that requires us to throw away our old ideals. I think that this phenomenon has truly had a detrimental effect on professional and personal progression.


Instead of asking, “Is this who I am?” which is a static question, I believe that it’s much more liberating and productive to ask instead, “Is this who I want to be?” and “Will this decision get me closer to who/where I want to be?” which is dynamic and evolving, empowering us to open up doors that we may not have previously permitted for ourselves.


I believe that you need to constantly be willing to let go and throw away “who I am;” throw away “me,” and challenge yourself to be and do things you never thought you would (sometimes just for the sake of it) if you want your life to be different than what it currently is. If we are strong in “who I am” after we supposedly figure it out, we fail to realize that it’s nothing more than “who I am right now,” and shoot down opportunities to be someone of a different potential that brings us much more satisfaction in life. It sounds dramatic and lot’s of people will disagree with me, but unless you’re currently living your dream life and want nothing to change, you shouldn’t hang onto “who I am.” Who you are is irrelevant. It’s who you want to be that’s the key. There are parts of yourself that you may want to keep and parts of your lifestyle that are neutral (neither good nor bad, or even on the good side. Eg. Vegetarian, does cross fit, etc.), but hear me out: To get yourself into the mindset to change habits (that do affect your future), you need to make changes just because. If you’re vegetarian and start eating seafood and change your cross fit routine to DDP Yoga, it wires your brain to be willing to change habits period, including habits that get you towards the life that you want; be the opposite of who you currently are in many aspects, and hate yourself for it for a while… Maybe even go back after you decide that you prefer it after giving it a fair chance. But the point is, the willingness to do this wires your brain to make changes (as drastic as required) to get you closer to where you want to be in life. The bigger the gap between where you are in life and where you want to be, the more drastically you need to do away with your old self by replacing a hardwired lifestyle or habits, in order to make choices that let you become “who you want to be,” living the life you want to be living.


In this past year, we’ve both gone through so many changes and new experiences working towards who we want to be, and as a result, are getting closer to figuring out what we need to take our business to the next level. It would’ve been scary to take a new approach, but because of habits that we each replaced and new experiences that we’ve welcomed into our lives, we’ve been able to come up with and accept some out-of-the-box ideas and beneficial changes in order to start to bring Volo Works where we want it to be!


If you take 1 thing away from this blog, make it this:


Instead of asking yourself: “Is this who I am?” ask, “Is this who I want to be?”


Kimberly Wong-Harwood


Volo Works