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“Just who the hell do you think you are?”

Someone asks you this, intending to take you down a peg. Or the inner critic, feeling insecure and nervous and afraid, dishes this line up just at the moment when you were starting to relax and have fun.

But the thing is–I’ve been learning to really like this question.

I like turning unpacking it.
I like turning it around: “Yeah…I mean, who the hell do I think I am, anyway?”

* * *

Say that you write a blog post. It’s kind of ballsy, kind of out there. “Who the hell do you think you are, to write that for the whole world to see?” says the Inner Critic.

There.
Right there.
That’s your moment.

In that moment, you have two options: shrink up because the Critic is pointing out that you could be called foolish. You could be seen for who you are, and roundly rejected.

Or, the other option: perhaps you could come up with an answer to that question, “Who do you think you are?”

“Yes, good question. Exactly who the hell do I think I am?”

There are some interesting answers.

Brass tacks. Tells-it-like-it-is. B.S. detector is loud and clear.
Transparent, bold, courageous.
Visionary. Willing to take the risk. Trying to tell the truth.
Shit-stirrer. Revolutionary. Won’t back down.
Quiet courage. Introverted and wise. Willing to hear what others don’t listen for.

* * *

This question has been lobbed at most of us at some point, as an accusation.

I see it as one of the most powerful questions that we could ask ourselves.

Rather than scurrying away from the question in fear, every single time your Critic or anyone else dishes up the “Who do you think you are?” question, you could see it as a call to rise.

You could tell them:

I’m the person who will say what no one else is willing to say.
I’m on a mission.
I the person who doesn’t need you to understand.
Just watch.
I have no idea who I am, but I sure as hell won’t be defined by you.

Just when someone demands to know exactly who the hell you are, you might find that for the first time…you know. And that’s when life gets real.