The Best Thing I’ve Learned That School Didn’t Teach Me

I have a question for you. A simple question that nobody ever asked me in school, not directly. Are you ready? My question is: Who are you? When I ask that, I’m not asking about where you work, where you live, or what your current financial situation is. I mean who are you? Can you answer that? If someone would have asked me that question six years ago when I was severely depressed, I wouldn’t know what to say. Because in my head, I was, “The girl who went through this, this, & this. The girl who the doctors think is sick. The girl who experienced this hardship. Etc.” That was who I thought I was. Until one day it hit me.

I realized that my circumstances weren’t who I was. Just because certain situations unfolded in my life, didn’t mean that they were a reflection of me. Was I really just the girl who went through this, this, & this, or was I the girl who found bliss in snuggling up with a good book? Was I really just the girl who the doctors thought was sick, or was I the girl who loved star-gazing, curious about the mysteries of the universe? Do you see where I’m going with this?

The best thing I’ve learned that school didn’t teach me, is that you are not defined by your current job, where you live, your hardships, or what is in your bank account. Your soul goes much deeper than just your current life situation. Because you are the books you read, the music you listen to, the art you admire, & the dreams you have. You are what you take from these. So fill yourself up with all of the art, knowledge, & experiences that you possibly can! These are what define who you are.

When I first started to truly take in this new concept, I kept asking myself who I was deep down. & then, the universe helped guide me towards my answers, when I found this short story online:

“There is a story they tell of two dogs. Both at separate times walk into the same room. One comes out wagging his tail, while the other comes out growling. A woman watching this goes into the room to see what could possibly make one dog so happy, & the other so mad.

To her surprise, she finds a room filled with mirrors. The happy dog found a thousand happy dogs looking back at him, while the angry dog saw only angry dogs growling back at him. What you see in the world around you is a reflection of who you are.”

I’m not saying that there are no bad people in the world, or that no bad things are happening. What I’m saying, is all of those things don’t define who you are. If you read my blog post How to Find the Good in Tough Situations, you’ll see that Anne Frank is a perfect example of this concept. She did not let the madness of the world get the best of her soul. She understood that her situation was not a reflection of who she was. If she could do that, why can’t we? Six years ago, I defined myself by the situations that I went through in life. But now?

I am a woman who feels so grateful to be alive every single day. That somehow, in the huge timeline of the universe, I get to be apart of this little speck of history. I am woman who dances around her house while blasting music. I am a woman who loves getting fresh air by biking with friends. I am a woman who loves to drink coffee, while watching the rain. & I am a woman who understands that there is so much more to life than just the tough situations we go through.

So, tell me, who are you?


♡ Valerie Karen.

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8 thoughts on “The Best Thing I’ve Learned That School Didn’t Teach Me

  1. Christine says:

    So, who am I? Even though I am 56 years old, this time in my life is REALLY about finding out who I am…just like you. 9 Months after graduation from college, I gave birth to the first of 5 sons, and since then, my life and who I am has been defined by my children. My focus is (I still have 2 in college at Virginia Tech) their needs. Not because they are demanding, but I still define my success in life based on my career as a mother. My greatest joy comes from supporting them and sharing in their lives. Pretty old fashioned, you say? Maybe, but it makes my soul happy. Truly happy. Now let me tell you, the older your children, the larger their needs….driving to Charlotte or Baltimore to look at a special car for sale…giving military haircuts at 11:30 pm… you get the perspective. But, I am apprehensive about who I will be when they are not here anymore. Not terrified, but excitedly nervous. I love to travel (good thing because they are stationed all over the US) and I love to be outdoors, away from…well everything. I think I am ready for quiet and a slow pace. I am extremely positive and content. Perhaps these go hand in hand. I see good in everything and most everyone; and I am truly a caretaker. There is a deep seated desire within me to see things go smoothly, and I become unbalanced when people are stressed or unhappy. I want to fix it or at least make life easier. So, self-reflection is something new to me. Valerie, I too love drinking coffee and watching the rain. I spent an hour last evening on the Parkway with a cup of coffee and some chocolate watching the deer and wild turkeys. Miles from anyone. Thank you for sending me into thought for that time. And thank you for your pictures and sharing your own perspective…its almost like seeing into the mystery of having a daughter. 🙂

  2. Dani says:

    What a beautiful post! But sometimes it is hard to see these points when you’re feeling at your lowest. This post a lovely reminder that we should take each day as it comes. And live life to the full

  3. everydaywithmadirae says:

    what an insightful post…i can relate to everything you said. I loved how you said “was I really just the girl who went through this, this, & this”… it is so easy be defined as what we went through, but you said it so wonderfully. We are so much more!! xo

  4. dogtagsdollsdinosaurs says:

    So beautifully written. You’re making me really think too! Because I totally had that mindset that what has happened to me is what makes me. While I think a part of that is a little true. Our experiences help make us who we are, but they don’t totally define us. 🙂

  5. Nickle Love says:

    I’ve asked myself that question so many times these past years. At 32 (almost 33) I feel like I’m only starting my life, I still don’t know what I really want to do because there’s so much to uncover in this world. I want to make a small difference and not be known as someone who works as… or is skilled at… or is always late. LOL. I say small difference because greatness start with something small. Like an idea. I want to leave this earth knowing that I accomplished what I was put in here to do.

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