As humans we have the tendency to represent ourselves by single labels, numbers, categories, or simple facts. Common examples of this would be using your career, your age, or your biggest hobby as a catch-all label to represent you and your identity.
Since we love to quantify things, we often attach great meaning to the various numbers that can represent us.
Below is a short list of numbers that can be used to represent me. Some of these can be pretty variable, but I’ve picked an average or a recent number for this purpose.
32 – Age
5’4″ – Height
165 lbs – Weight
8.5 – Shoe size
8 – Books read in 2014 so far
29% – Body fat
0 – Number of children
10,000-12,000 – Steps taken per day
29 – Jean size I wore yesterday
4 – Average cups of coffee per day
5 – Years I’ve been in my current job
2200-2500 – Calories eaten per day
4 – Years of post-secondary education
12.5″ – Bicep measurement
125 – Facebook friends
225 lbs – Back squat PR
3 – Spartan Races completed
1 – Vehicle in our household
40 – Number of burpees I can do in 3:00
Which number about me is most meaningful to you as an outsider looking at me? Which number tells you the most about me as a person?
Now thinking about your own list of these numbers (or similar), which of them do you attach the most meaning to? Is it the same as the one that you thought was most meaningful about me?
I would bet that very few people (if any) reading this would say that my current weight is the most meaningful number on that list. But how many of us attach great meaning to that particular number in our own minds? We fixate on it, obsess about it, monitor it constantly, try everything possible to change it, break down when it doesn’t change, have a day ruined by measuring it. And yet…this particular number holds much less meaning to those around us.
None of these numbers, weight included, tell you whether or not I’m a good person. Taken individually, these numbers don’t give you a complete picture of who I am and only give a tiny glimpse into part of my identity. The same is true for your own list of numbers.
We are all so much more than a number, whether that number is our weight, our gym PR, our age, or our pants size. Maybe the next time you’re negatively impacted by thinking about one of these particular numbers, you’ll think back to this post and this reminder of that fact.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about which numbers you thought were most meaningful for me and for yourself!