"Defining moments". Those two words together can sound so grandiose, so bold, and so ambitious. I think it's because of that that people have said to me, "I haven't really had any defining moments. There's been nothing big that's shaped my life."
We ALL have defining moments. It's not only rich or famous people who have them, and it's not necessarily events like winning the lottery or experiencing great trauma that shape us.
A defining moment is an event that creates a change that impacts the trajectory of our life and/or creates a part of who we are. Some defining moments may be graduation from high school or college, marriage, first child, divorce, a death of a loved one, or other big event. Equally as often, a defining event can be something seemingly small, a moment in time, an insignificant comment.
One of my defining moments occurred when I was about six or seven years old. As I did almost every day, I scampered off to our next door neighbors. Two girls, my age lived there. I so enjoyed spending time with them. They had games that I didn't have, and their mother always had fresh-baked cookies on hand. That day, I approached the house and was just about to knock on the wood frame of the screen door when I saw a silhouette approach from down the hallway. I was pretty sure it was Peter, my friends', older brother.
As the figure came closer, I heard, "Why do you always come here? You have your own home. Stop being such a bother. We don't want you here all the time!"
I don't recall whether I responded at all, but I do know that I ran home, crept into the house as quietly as possible, so mom wouldn't ask me why I wasn't next door, locked myself in my room, and cried and cried with shame. A few weeks later, I learned that the Johnsons were moving away. My six-year-old self assumed that they were moving because I was such a terrible bother.
That event so definitely shaped who I was for decades to come. The way I made or didn't make friends, the way I approached people professionally, and my sometimes desperate desire for acceptance were all influenced by my need to not be a bother to anyone. I'm very sure that I missed out on opportunities to connect with people because I appeared detached or disinterested.
It was through periodic journaling, questioning myself over and over again, that I eventually developed an understanding of the root of my lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. Once I had that understanding, I was able to look at myself and my value with different eyes, begin to heal, and know how to make friends in a healthy way.
Another defining moment was a mere passing comment by an English teacher in high school. He told me with such conviction and clarity that I had a unique talent for written self-expression. In times of great insecurity over the quality of my writing, I refer back to the journaling I did of that event. Doing so doesn't necessarily alleviate my insecurities, but it does help me get "back in the saddle" and continue writing.
Do you know your defining moment or moments? Try writing them down for yourself. It'll be interesting to see what impact doing so may have for you.