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How do you define you?

Fill in the blank: "I'm a ________"
Don't think, just say the first thing that comes to mind.
What is that blank for you?

The other day, upon leaving a friend's house, I said, "I'm just an industrial designer!"
Then I thought woa...really? It made me a little uncomfortable that I put myself in that bucket right off the bat. I studied industrial design in school for 5 years, but is that really who I am?

There's this interesting relationship between who we are, who we aspire to be, and who others tell us we are.

When I was searching for a college- and a major- as a high school senior, my parents told me I was good at math and science (I did get good grades in those classes...) I applied to 8 schools-7 of them for mechanical engineering. Then a little bit of magic happened. We visited the design department of the local University. The tour there was captivating, and just like they say in all the college guide books, I knew I had found my fit.

I love my parents, and they meant nothing but the best, but at the end of the day I was (and still am) a creative, visual individual who likes to solve problems. That's not so far away from mechanical engineering, but I know for a fact that I had more fun building porta-potties than I would have had studying algorithms. For me, mechanical engineering vs. industrial design is the difference between who other people told me I was, and who I am.

So there's real value in understanding yourself. It can give you a nudge in the right direction when you come to a fork in the road. It can- and does- lead you to like-minded people and fast friends. I'm not saying you have to get all narcissistic about it, but pay attention when you're happy. What are you doing? Do more of it! ASAP! And let your happiness define who you are.