Is it your socio-economic grouping (lower-class, middle-class, upper-middle-class)?
Is it your age range, as defined by so many questionnaires and surveys (Under 12 years old, 12-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65-74, 75 years or older)?
Is it your ethnicity (White, Hispanic or Latino, Black or African American, Native American or American Indian, Asian / Pacific Islander, Other)?
Is it the generational decade you were born into (baby boomer, gen x, millennial, gen z)?
Is it your marital status? Your level of education? Your employment status? Your political affiliations? Your gender/sexual orientation?
There are mommy-bloggers (are there actually any bloggers anymore?) whose primary identification is their parental status. There are work titles that define us in our career. And these are all so superficial, really. Do you define yourself by the color of your eyes, or whether you are left-handed or right-handed or, if you are in the military, by your rank?
Is your definition of yourself based on physical traits or intellectual ones, or location? Or do you find that your definition is an amalgam...a mixture of many of these things?
Defining yourself is akin to labeling, I suppose. You box yourself up and make information available about yourself that helps others understand who you are. But if you are only defining yourself FOR YOURSELF, what then? Does your definition help rank your sense of self-worth? Or is it simply ways in which you interact with the world?
If I was to define myself with labels, I could point you at this old post: Labeling Lizardek. But it's not really the LABELS I am thinking about right now. It's a more amorphous definition. It's how people see and perceive you (and how you see and perceive yourself): the value you bring to your life, your relationships, your family, your friends, your job, your hobbies and the organizations to which you belong.
It's the hole you would leave if you were no longer there. What defines you in that space? I suppose it also depends greatly on WHO is doing the defining. The definition of ME is different for my son and daughter, and even more different for my husband, my mother, my siblings. And yet again, different for my colleagues, and members of the AIC Malmö, and my best friends. The size of my definition is larger, most likely, for those who have known me longer, who know me better. The depth of my definition is deeper, as well, for those who know my secrets, my dreams, my inspirations.
Maybe we have huge, deep definitions, but other people only see little pieces of them, for certain amounts of time. Little bits of our definition, out on loan, so to speak. And if they don't keep up, those little bits might no longer fit back into the whole of the definition over time, because it morphs and changes, just like we do. It takes a lot of work to keep up with a definition of ourselves. We have trouble with our own; it's no wonder it's difficult to do it for others.
All through our lives, we move in and out of categories, in and out of defined spaces, adding and removing labels and information. We move in and out of other's perceptions: leaving people behind, meeting new ones, losing some, finding others. We age, we change, we learn, we grow, we cease. Once we're gone, we can no longer change our definition; it's fixed in place and up to posterity to update. I guess it matters to influence it as much as we can while we have the chance.