Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with defining who you are based on NOT being someone else.
Let me explain.
When I was in high school, I didn’t really stand out. Despite how hard I tried. Grew my hair long, dyed it green. Whatever it was I tried, it didn’t really work. I was still the quiet, unremarkable white kid in the back of the class.
Then, one day the loud speaker announced, “Will Joshua Waldron please come to the principle’s office immediately.”
I turned bright red. The whole class started to chuckle, “this quiet kid got into trouble?”
“But wait”, I futilely tried to explain, “She said ‘Waldron’, I’m Waldman!”
“Never mind that, go to the principals office.”
And so I got my first badge of honor. Which I didn’t really deserve. So I thought.
But I kept explaining that it wasn’t me. There was indeed a Joshua Waldron who got himself into quite a bit of trouble on a weekly basis, and it was NOT me.
Looking back, it was that one silly mix-up and then my defining myself as “not-Waldron” that turned things around for me.
I Am Not This, I Am That
I believe this same principle can be applied in almost any situation based on a principle found in a book called, “Made to Stick“.
It describes the idea of a Meme, an idea-object that is easily grasped by others. The example of, “a pomelo is like a large grapefruit” can be better understood than a lengthy description of the exotic fruit.