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  • Writer's pictureBreanna Aponte

Who Are You? Finding Your Identity

Have you caught yourself doing something and thought, “hold up, this isn’t me”? Or maybe even allowed others’ opinions to persuade you into acting, thinking or moving a certain way? You are not alone! We all have been there. It’s hard not to when social media makes it so easy to see everyone’s lives and makes us feel less than because everyone else seems oh so happy and successful. We can easily lose ourselves through the pretty pictures on the gram that seem to grab our attention at all the wrong moments and remind us of how unhappy we are with our bodies, clothes, house, car, life because we are comparing it to the tailored images others are creating and portraying as real life.

So being True to you. What does that even mean? It means you don't worry about pleasing other people; living by someone else's standards or rules. You don't care what people think of you. You live as your natural self. Without compromise, no matter the circumstances. You are, who you are.

Being true to yourself starts with knowing who you are and accepting yourself. This takes time people. This means knowing your strengths, passions, limitations, and purpose in life and then living that way all the time. You come to know yourself only by living life. Finding what works for you. What defines you and makes you whole.

I remember when I first started dating Dre and his stepdad asked. “Who are you?” I said huh, what do you mean, I’m Bre. He said, no. Who are you? And I’m not gonna lie, this didn’t end well. We went back and forth with me trying to prove that I knew who I was and in the end I realized, I didn’t. I knew what I had been through, what I was currently doing and where I wanted to be but that’s not the same thing as actually knowing who I am.

I have to thank Dre for his patience because I struggled with the concept of knowing who I was for months. My peace was disturbed, I felt attacked and incompetent. I did so much research, reading and studying the bible to still feel totally lost with the concept of not knowing who I was.

I was so wrapped up into my business that I lost my own personal identity in what I was DOING, not who I actually was. Think about it. If someone were to ask you right now, who are you? How would you respond? I’ll give you a moment to think about it. Be honest. What would you say? How would you explain yourself? I’m going to count to 5 in case you still need time to think. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Ready? What did you say? What it something like, “my name is so and so, I work for so and so doing such and such.” or maybe, “I’m a wife and mom of 3 kids”. Both answers don’t actually say anything about you. Our identity is not the job we work or the role we have as wives or mothers. Our identity is so much bigger than that.

Think about it like this. If I ask you who you are and you say you’re a wife and mom. You lose your personal identity and are stuck in the role of a wife and mom. Duties of a wife and mom. Schedule of a wife and mom. But what are you outside of that? Because you were you before your husband or your kids weren’t you? You were also you before that job position you have. So I’m going to ask you again. Who are you?

What happens if god forbid you lose your family and your job? What is your identity then? A title does not make up your identity, it adds a layer to it. A relationship does not define you, it compliments you.

Finding who we are outside of the things that we do or have is tough. Sometimes we create fake identities to hide behind because we think it’s a good look and others will be impressed. We throw around titles like “CEO, business owner, head of this, leader of that” and most of the time it’s to hide our insecurities about who we are and what we actually do.

Our character and identity is questioned when we don’t hold true to our morals, values, and beliefs.

To make it simple, I have broken down 5 steps and key elements to help you determine your identity and who you truly are so you can be true to yourself:

Beliefs; trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.

What do you believe in? Do you ever allow your beliefs to shift based on situations outside of your control or when you’re surrounded by certain people? Would you shout your beliefs to the rooftop and stand by them no matter who may try to challenge them?

Before getting to know God and building a personal relationship with him, this part was really hard. I really didn’t know what I believed in or more importantly, I didn’t even think it was important. I was living each day as if it were promised and wasn’t aware of how my lack of beliefs made me a negative person.

Building a relationship with God allowed me to finally believe in something other than myself. It gave me the hope and positivity I was missing and as I learned more and more, the bible and God’s principals started to shift my mentality and behaviors overall making me a better person and being more self-aware. I shared my journey and beliefs openly with others and have been able to lead others to God through my own personal testimony.

That’s the beauty of your beliefs. Whatever you believe in gives you hope and faith. It pushes you to be better and hold yourself accountable while also being a light for others.

Morals; a person's standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do.

Do you make choices with your moral compass or just take the easier route? Do you struggle to be consistent with your actions and words? Saying one thing and doing another?

I think back to when I cheered for the NBA and how I was really lost as a person. My morals were out of the window and I was doing anything to fit in and be accepted. Instead of being true what I thought was acceptable, I forced myself to lose unhealthy amounts of weight, hung out with women who I normally would never have been friends with and even got caught up being what I call a “groupie” hanging out with the basketball players and doing things that were out of my character just to be accepted and invited to the next kick it.

It took me a while to realize what I was doing and thank God I was able to do damage control. I was dating Tristan Thompson at the time and I broke things off with him as well as quit the team. I had wanted to make the team so bad but had allowed it to change me and no longer used my moral compass to make choices. Ending that relationship and quitting the team was hard to do but after it was done, I felt an immediate release and sense of freedom.

Sometimes, we want something so bad but don’t even know why we want it. Our morals are like parents. They remind you what you’re supposed to and keep your behavior in check. It’s important to check in with them and make sure that you’re in alignment.

Values; one's judgment of what is important in life.

Do you ever find yourself making decisions that don’t align with what you want out of life? It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype of life that sometimes our values are determined by what’s going on around us. Let me tell you a story.

When I was younger, I was in the clubs heavy! I was drinking almost everyday of the week and was always pressed to be seen and be with the in crowd. If there was a party, I was there! I would get 1-2 hours of sleep some nights or even pull all nighters because by the time I was getting in the house, it was time to get ready for work. I was spending all my money on material things whether it was shoes or clothes and my priorities were all jacked up.

At that time of my life, I was so lost as a person. I was young minded, irresponsible and shallow. The things that were important to me at that age are mind blowing to me at this age. Values are likely to change as you grow and mature because we are always evolving as individuals.

The things I value in life now are God, my peace, health, financial freedom, friendship and my fiance and future family. My values combined with my morals and beliefs create the life you see. I keep those things in mind with everything I do and it allows me to stay true to who I am.

Behavior; the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others.

Do you switch up your behavior around different people? Are you one way one day and another the next? Are you easily persuaded to do things out of your character when your surroundings change?

Being true to yourself means that you are who you are, you stand strong in your beliefs and showcase who you are with your behavior. No matter where you are or who you’re with, you maintain the same posture, attitude and actions.

I remember in high school, girls would be mean to other girls who their friends didn’t like. Most of the time they never had a good reason for not liking her in the first place but once 1 person doesn’t like someone, like followers, all the girls in the group wouldn’t like her either. I never understood this. I would come home from school and tell me my mom stories asking, “don’t these girls have a brain of their own”.

I have always been nice to people. I never acted differently to people just because someone else didn’t like them or cared if what I did make me look cool or not.

I was what you call the “popular” girl in school. I was cheerleading captain since the 10th grade, I was 1 of the only kids in my school who had their own car, all the boys liked me and I had lot’s of friends, but I was also the complete opposite of a mean girl or your typical popular kid. I was a straight A student, senior class president, attended the early college program, was in choir, I tutored, volunteered AND worked jobs outside of school. I was literally voted brains and beauty.

Not to hype myself up or make myself sound perfect but I am very proud of the type of kid and young lady I was. I always cared about people no matter who they were or what they do. I enjoy seeing people smile and even though at that age I had no idea what the future had in store, I always worked hard at everything I did.

Now as an adult, I look back and realize how much of my past has impacted my future. The same behaviors and values I had in high school carried on with me into college and then into my adult and business life. The way I treated people allowed me to grow my brand because everyone I encountered could say that I was a genuine person. Connections I had made as an early adult turned into clients I later had in my business and all sorts of different opportunities have come from just treated others well.

So look at your life and ask yourself. Are you the same person you are in front of your friends as you are in front of your family, church or co-workers. If you’re switching up who you are based off of who you’re around, you are not being true to yourself.

Try to create a list of the different types of people you’re around and then compare your behaviors for each of them. Are they different? Why is that? What can you change to be more consistent and make sure that your behaviors align with who you say you are?

Identity; the distinguishing character or personality of an individual

Do you hide behind job titles or roles? Do you know that who you are is a combination of your beliefs, morals, and values? Do you hide behind fancy words or things to show people who you are?

Our identity is challenged everyday because the world we live in is a constant distraction. From our phones to social media, TV and even our communities, we are faced with challenges that test our identity. We are taught to want more, do more, have more. This causes us to confuse our identity with what we are busy doing. Separating the 2 are hard but I’ll try to explain it in a way that you can understand.

2 years into starting my shameless business, I had reached a breaking point. I had opened up a facility I called Shameless Studios and it was my first time ever managing something so big. Never managed a physical location ever but imagine having to manage on top of wearing 20 other hats. I was the cleaner, the accountant, the marketing team, the hiring team, the instructor, the consultant, the assistant, the list goes on. It was exhausting! It was a new business so I couldn’t afford help outside of the help I was already getting and once I slowed down from being non-stop busy, I realized I wasn’t happy.

My lease was about to renew and I knew in my heart that I shouldn’t resign. I was so afraid of what people would think of me and how it would affect my brand that I lost myself in the business. I was so consumed with the day to day tasks of running the studio that I had lost who I was and simple things like what made me happy, who I enjoyed spending time with, my passions etc.

When I walked away from the studio I initially felt like a failure. It took me a couple of days, prayer and words of family and friends to realize that I didn’t fail, it’s just a part of the process. I was so wrapped up in being Founder & CEO of Shameless Studios that I neglected the big picture goals that I had for myself and the brand.

That year was the best year of my life. I truly got to know myself. What I like, don’t like. What my values were, what my focuses were, and what I stood for. I made changes in my life that allowed me to align myself closer to things that my heart desired. I stopped going out and getting drunk, stopped hanging out with certain people, stopped dressing a certain way. I even started eating healthier and going to bed at a decent time. Day by day I was being more and more true to myself. I finally understood who I was and what my identity came from.

Not from my business, not from who I knew, not from how much money I had. But from my beliefs, values, morals and behaviors. It was then that things started to look up for me. I was making better choices and putting myself in a position to receive blessings and favor.

I challenge you to journal your thoughts on who you are and your identity. Try not to include what you do for a living, any positions, titles or roles and get to the core of who you are.

Funny thing is, when you realize who you are. You might not like it. And that’s okay! Because the beauty of discovering yourself is that YOU are in control. If you don’t like something, you can work on changing it. But you would never know unless you take the time to peel off the layers that society has laid on you and get down to the core of who you really are.

I encourage you to dig deep and take the steps to knowing who you are, and loving who you are. You can download my free guide “Who Are You? The 5 Steps To Finding Your Identity”.

Until next time, be shameless!

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