Who do you think you are?
‘I’m not getting much interest online,’ said the email. ‘HopefulGirl, would you look at my profile and tell me where I’m going wrong?’
I was happy to oblige. I’d chatted to this chap on my Facebook page and found him to be friendly, interesting and a sincere Christian (and nice looking for his age, if you’re wondering). I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t having much success – so I clicked through to his profile…
There was nothing really wrong with his profile – no embarrassing admissions or bitter comments. It was just a bit… characterless. Anonymous. He liked fun nights out and cosy nights in – don’t we all? He enjoyed travelling, reading and time with friends – just like 99% of people on the site. This likeable man, who actually has plenty to say for himself, hadn’t managed to communicate on his profile any sense of his personality, his passions, what makes him tick. It didn’t tell the reader who he is.
Over-long profiles can be a turn-off, but it’s tricky to paint a vivid picture of ourselves in a few sentences. For many of us, the problem goes further. We’re so caught up with the business of life that we rarely take time for self-analysis. Faced with the question: ‘Who are you?’ many of us struggle to articulate it and end up thinking: ‘I don’t know… who AM I?!’
Being able to define our priorities, passions and purposes is valuable in life generally, not just for writing dating profiles. It gives us a sense of our own identity, which boosts self-confidence. It allows us to prioritise our time and energy for the things we consider most important. It even helps clarify what we’re looking for in a potential partner. So here are three simple exercises for working out who you are…
1. The ‘I am…’ exercise
Take a piece of lined paper and write out 20 times: ‘I am…’ Then fill in the statements. This can include your relationships with others: ‘I am… a mother… a son… a sister… a friend… a mentor’. Your work and interests: ‘I am… a teacher… a minister… a nature-lover… a worshiper… a fitness-fanatic… a writer’. Your personal qualities: ‘I am… encouraging… funny… prayerful… driven… the life and soul of the party’. And your values and aspirations: ‘I am… concerned about poverty… born to be a parent… passionate about politics… called to serve others…’
Once you’ve spent time compiling your 20 statements, you’ll have a clearer sense of your identity. Highlight the statements that stand out to you as the most important.
2. The ‘No Limits’ exercise
Ask yourself: if money was no object, you had no responsibilities, and you knew you couldn’t fail – what would you be doing with your life right now? Describe it in detail – where would you live? How would you spend your time? What would you achieve? What would be your legacy?
Many of us are held back by fear of failure, so we stay in the ‘safe zone’ and drift along. On a practical level, having to earn a living and the responsibilities of caring for others (children, parents, vulnerable relatives) can make chasing our dreams a luxury we can’t afford. That’s part of life. However, having a picture of what we’d do if there were no limits can help pinpoint what we’re passionate about. We can also start making changes to include more of those things in our lives (maybe in small ways), and move towards a more fulfilling path.
3. The ‘Happy’ exercise
This is a simple one. Ask yourself: when am I happiest? What activities ‘give me life’ and make me feel at peace with the world? What are the things I look forward to with excitement, and back on with satisfaction?
When you name those things – be it extreme sports, time with children, volunteering, a passionate debate, cooking for friends, leading worship or cuddling the cat – it helps you understand yourself, and what you need to make more time for.
Every one of us is unique, with different God-given talents, interests, values, passions and purposes. Once you’ve defined those, take another look at your profile. Does it paint a vivid picture of the real you, or is it a bland description, indistinguishable from hundreds of others? If you deleted the photos, would a friend recognise you from your description?
If not, ditch all the stuff that could apply to anyone, and concentrate on communicating the things particular to YOU. Then you’ll leap off the screen as a real, characterful person who invites readers to dig a little deeper. There’s no one else like you. You just have to know who you are – then tell the world.
Do you struggle to write a profile that really describes and defines you? What tips can you offer others?