If someone asked you to describe yourself, how would you respond? Would you list the roles you carry out: mother/father, son/daughter, employee/employer, caregiver, volunteer? Would you list characteristics you see in yourself or have been told you exhibit: smart, funny, sassy, quiet, outspoken, spontaneous?
The first list involves nouns, the second involves adjectives.
The noun descriptors are those things in our life that are pretty set. There are some of these words that we cannot change, even if we elect not to take part in the responsibilities of that role. And, these are things that may be assigned to us or placed upon us; we may not have actively chosen these words.
The adjective descriptors are those that are more fluid and malleable. In a way, particularly compared to the nouns, we have a more active role in the choosing or expressing of these traits.
Since we may not have much say about the nouns, let’s talk about the adjectives. They convey more subjective things and we may compare ourselves to those around us in deciding if that word is accurate. They may seem true or may feel like an imperfect word choice in comparison with others or society in general
And yet, if we don’t like those words, we can exercise other parts of ourselves to change them. If we would rather be described as more easygoing, we can choose to let life be different than we think it should be. If we would rather be describe as more generous, we can see what resources we have to share and make deliberate steps towards that.
Part of the good around me are the nouns and the adjectives. The nouns provide continuity and stability. There are some roles that we should not change, even when they are tough and we want to shed them. The adjectives describe where we currently are, but don’t provide such firm boundaries we are locked in for life. As we gain new experiences or peel back new layers of ourselves, we can adopt or part ways with those words.