Who Do You Want to Be?

Posted on February 17, 2015

It is the stalking pang of loneliness where we often grow the most. Like plants, nocturnal darkness produces a ripe harvest if we learn to embrace the lessons that come with pain. We are most fortified when put under pressure: Friendships fall away. Promises get broken. Your heart feels like it is left barely beating. But, it is beating. Slowly, surely each day the beating gets a little stronger and you find yourself becoming something beautiful from the ashes. You become wondrous–so spectacular even you can’t believe it.

This, however, is not without the excruciating challenge of growing the hell up.


No one ever asked me who I wanted to be when I grow up. When you’re younger, people usually ask what you want to be, but rarely who. It may be that when we are born our parents already have in their minds who we’re going to be. Perhaps, they think if they love us enough we’ll instinctively become unselfish, kind and intentional individuals who can focus solely on our future aspirations: A doctor. A lawyer. A baker. A candle stick maker. The possibilities of what we can be are limitless. Who, however, is almost always left nebulous.

It’s naive to believe who we become is an un-orchestrated process by which we submit ourselves to fate. It is also unfortunate that we would leave something as precious as our very being into the hands of the unknown. And if you believe in God it is passive to assume the Creator would magically wave us into perfection without our participation. I am learning who I want to be requires work.

It started a year before I turned 30 last September. I had an internal nagging that my life had to be made of more than my professional endeavors. This wasn’t the normal panic that comes with suddenly realizing you’re an adult. It was accepting the wisdom that comes with getting a little bit older. I became acutely perspective as I reflected on a failed marriage, failed romantic pursuits and failed friendships. Despite the roles other individuals played I was the common denominator and that meant I had a mirror to face. I saw common patterns in each of those failures. 

I saw a woman who was unrooted, mistrusting, and temperamental. No one asked me who I wanted to be when I grew up, but I feel confident if someone did ask the younger me would have said no way, Jose to that woman. So, I started doing the dredging work of coming into my own. Because I knew I needed a positive reference point for the New Me, I re-affirmed my foundation on Christ. I resolved to be wholly devoted to actively pursuing the Holy Trinity. To put it simply, I leaned into my faith at a greater capacity than I had ever done before. From there I charted out the character I needed to cultivate because character ultimately becomes the make up of who we are. I wanted internal consistency of being joyful, grateful and whole. The manifestation of this internal consistent groundwork would prove I was getting there. Then the tests came because while I made the decision to be someone new–someone whole and healthy, life didn’t decide to stop being life.

People who I never thought would walk away, walked away. God asked me if I would be the woman who graciously let go, or would I be the woman who forced myself onto them like a misfit puzzle piece. I learned to be the woman who graciously let go.

Work demands and expectations increased. God asked me if I would be the woman who complained about His blessings and provision, or would I be the woman who rose to the occasion. After many false starts, I decided to be the woman who rose to the occasion. 

Conflict and disappointments stymied friendships. God asked me if I would be the woman who approaches challenges with integrity, or would I be the woman bailed at the smallest sign of trouble. I prayerfully, carefully and discerningly approached challenges with integrity, communicating as best I could. When my efforts were stonewalled I repeated lesson number one: I graciously let go.

With every test–some failed, some barely passed–I found myself developing into someone I could be proud of; more importantly someone God could be proud of. There is still a lot more internal work to be done (read that as italicized with an exclamation point and an asterisk). Still, in the evergreen process of growth, it feels good to shake off the dirt and emerge from the cocoon. It feels good to do life with patience, joy, love, kindness, meekness, gentleness and temperance. It feels good to have a sense of self.

My wings are still a little rusty, but I like who I’m becoming.


7 Replies to "Who Do You Want to Be?"

  • Danielle
    February 17, 2015 (8:46 am)

    kudos Shakirah for sharing this beautiful, personal, intimate piece with us! I’ve seen you grow over the past 3.5-4 years and it’s been a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of. Keep on keeping on and thank you, as always, for sharing your eloquent thoughts! You’re a string beautiful woman of integrity and I’m glad to call you sister-friend.


    • Shakirah Adianna
      February 17, 2015 (11:00 pm)


      Thank you for reading and commenting. It means so much to have the consistent support of sister-friends like you. I am eternally grateful for the role you play in my life.


  • Shekea
    February 17, 2015 (8:08 pm)

    Beautifully and wonderfully said, Shakirah! Thank you for the way you let us in, and for the ways your transparency charges us to be introspective. I’m thankful for your journey; it encourages mine! I’m thankful that you give yourself grace; it encourages us all to. Mucho love!

    • Shakirah Adianna
      February 17, 2015 (11:01 pm)

      Thanks so much, Kea! I appreciate your feedback and am glad my dysfunction encourages you. :p lol

  • Sherri
    February 18, 2015 (12:47 am)

    Jason Mraz has a song A Beautiful Mess. This post reminds me of that song, reminds me that while the process may be messy, it can still be beautiful. Of course you write beautifully, but most importantly you strive to live beautifully. For me that is meaningful. Keep living your words.

  • Shakirah A. Hill | 40 Days
    February 18, 2015 (12:54 pm)

    […] 91 and 20 minutes of deep meditation (20+20=40, see what I did there?). Yesterday I wrote about the kind of woman I want to be. As part of developing into that woman there are things I want to experience of which includes […]

  • Shaloma - TallTalesAndFancy
    October 25, 2016 (11:38 am)

    I love this and can so relate! Thank you for your vulnerability. I’ve been following you for a few years now (since you lived in NY, and now regret not connecting sooner!) and your posts never disappoint. I missed this one last year but I needed it today.