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You Are Not a Number

You remember how in high school, hangin’ out with our girl/guy friends, we used to evaluate our co-ed classmates by assigning them a number? Like, with 1 being extremely unattractive, and 10 being super hot?

Someone would say, “What do you think of Max?”

And someone else would say, “9. Definitely a 9.”

And someone else would say, “Max?! A 9? As if! A 5, maybe!”

And they’d go back and forth like that for a while.

In some ways, I loved high school. And in other ways, I’m so glad those days are gone.

Because really, Max is not a 9 or a 5, or a 1 or a 10. Max is a person. (Actually, I didn’t know anyone in high school named Max; he’s just here to serve a rhetorical purpose.)

Maybe Max has a nice smile and a snappy sense of style, but he interrupts you every time you talk, and he shares your taste in video games, but you don’t see eye-to-eye about movies, except you recently found out that you both, to your surprise, secretly love Napolean Dynamite. In other words, people are complex entities with complex identities that cannot be summed with a number.

Obviously, I don’t do that anymore. (although I wouldn’t be surprised if some adults do) It got me thinking, though, about all the other ways that we quantify our selves and our identities. Weight and age are the obvious ones. But there are so many other ways that we “measure” our lives and ourselves by some quantitative figure.

Partly it’s a result, I think, of language. We tend to say, “I’m XXX pounds/kilos.”

But you are not XXX pounds. You may weigh XXX, but that is not who you are. If tomorrow you weighed XYZ, you would still be you.

We do the same thing with age. We say, “I’m XX.” But you’re not XX. You have been alive for XX years, but that is not who you are. When you turn XY, you will still be you.

10570529_10152802135208149_5232661158565886291_nYou are not a clothing size. You just happen to fit into a piece of clothing that someone decided to call a 2, or an 8, or a 16, or a 22. (And those sizes aren’t even consistent, anyway. With some brands, I wear an extra small, and with others, an extra large. Go figure.)

You are not your height or the circumference of your waist.

427295_10151319969943149_1780415865_nYou are not the amount of money in your bank account, or the price of your house, or the number of acres you own.

You are not your GPA, your ACT or SAT score, your class rank.

You are not the number of degrees you have, or the number of years it took to get them.

10312354_10201969156090539_2936137976171981352_nYou are not the number of miles you have ridden your bike this year.

You are not the time it takes you to run a marathon.

Maybe you have the best GPA you’ve ever had, or you’ve biked more miles this year than ever before, or got the best marathon time you ever have. And that’s awesome–you should be proud! But that is not who you are. And if next time, you run a little slower, get a few fewer miles in…that’s not who you are either.

11219071_10204415921178137_4278007305240837696_nYou are not the number of calories you eat, the micros or macros you consume. You are not your HDL or your LDL, your blood pressure or your triglycerides.

You are not the number of times per week you make it to the gym or the number of pushups you can do.

You are not first, or second, or last. Maybe you finished first–and that’s awesome! Or maybe you finished last. And hey–you finished–and that’s awesome!

11953004_10153733982738149_1079106355030507178_nYou are not the number of publications on your CV or the number of insurance policies you sold this year.

You are not your salary.

You are not the number of Facebook friends you have. You are not the number of likes, page views, followers, comments, re-pins you get.

10360389_857957597609585_4203389666695015332_nYou are not a number on the Kinsey scale. You may find it useful to use the Kinsey scale to explain that the world isn’t as simple as gay and straight–but that’s not who you are.

You are not your address, your birthday, your SSN.

You are not a phone number to be picked up at a bar.

309311_10151053080990991_171488079_nYou are not a statistic. You are not the 6.7% of Americans with depression or the 1.1% with schizophrenia or the 0.6% with anorexia or the 1% with autism spectrum disorder. You are a person who might happen to have depression or schizophrenia or anorexia or autism spectrum disorder. But that is not who you are.

You are not a number! You are a person.




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