When I am getting to know someone and they ask me to tell them about myself I typically answer along the lines of:
My name is Aubri Haggard and I am finishing my last semester of my Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). I work for the accounting department at UNR and teach a managerial accounting class to sophomore level students. After I finish my degree I will be moving to San Francisco to work for a public accounting firm where I will work towards becoming a Certified Public Accountant. In my free time, I love to spend time with my family, friends, and boyfriend.
You will notice that first and foremost I talk about being a student, then I talk about my current job as a part time teacher and my future job as an accountant for a public accounting firm. Finally, I talk about being a family member, a friend, and a girlfriend. When I think about myself I think of myself primarily as a student, an aspiring accountant, a family member, a friend, and a girlfriend.
I think that the way I talk about myself is incredibly important and gives great insight into how I value myself. Having spent the last 5 years of my life at a university pursuing higher education, I feel that this is one of the most important pieces of myself. From here I talk about my career and then who I am personally. Never at any point do I say, “I suffer from Bipolar Disorder.” I don’t say this because I do not believe that being bipolar defines me. When I think about being bipolar, I think of it as a minor attribute not a defining feature of myself.
Choosing to think of being bipolar as a minor attribute instead of a defining feature gives me the freedom to be who I want to be. I get to choose to be a student not a student who is bipolar; I get to choose to be an apprising accountant not a professional who experiences manic and depressive episodes; I get to be a family member, a friend, and a girlfriend who loves deeply not a woman who experiences mood swings.
It took time and hard work to get to a place where I felt like my diagnosis did not define me. There were some days where I felt worthless, days where I felt like my diagnosis was holding me back, and days where I wanted to float away to escape the pain. However, I know that with determination and a supportive “tribe” that I am in control and that I get to choose what defines me.
Leave a comment below and tell me how you choose to define yourself! Until next time remember you are in control of how you define yourself.
(Graphic created using Canva)