The many layers that make you, you

Before starting this exercise, make sure you are in a safe, quiet space to for your self-reflective creative process.

Take a moment to reflect on who you are in the world. How do you feel others who are first meeting you see you? How is the way you present yourself to someone you are first meeting different than how you present yourself to those closest to you? Think of yourself as a gobstopper. You have an outer shell, several middle layers, and an inner core. What parts of yourself show up for others and what parts of yourself feel most essential to your core?

With a piece of paper, either draw the inside of a gobstopper, (consisting of an outer shell, middle layer, and inner core), or simple create three different rows on your paper that will act as the three different parts of your gobstopper.

Starting with the outer shell, begin thinking-what are qualities most people know about you? What do people see you are interested in? How do people see you interact with others? The outer shell are the most visible ways that you show up in the world.

Next, think of your middle layers. What are things your family and close friends know about you? What qualities take longer for you to reveal? What are some of your dreams and thoughts that maybe just a few people know? It is important to remember, as people we have many different layers, and some become more prominent than others depending on what time we are at in our lives or what we are presently going through. For example, we all have a child-like, imaginative, playful layer to us. As we grow older, this layer may not be one we acknowledge as much as we used to, but it is helpful to recognize that the layer is there, revisit and remember what it is like to simple just play.

Finally, your inner core. Who is your true self? It is okay if you are still figuring this out or even if you feel you don’t yet know who you really are at your core. Think about what you do know is true about the inside of you. What qualities feel most central to your identity? If you could describe yourself knowing no one else would ever hear it or read it, how would you?

Take the time you need to really reflect on each part of your gobstopper. Whether you are doing this alone, with another person, or a group of people, reflect on the questions below after completing the self-reflective exercise.  

  • What part of the gobstopper did you find easiest to respond to? The outer shell, middle layer, or inner core? Why do you think this is?
  • Did you find there was a lot in your inner core that you purposely choose not to show others?
  • How do your outer shell and inner core relate to each other?
  • How does who you are affect how you see others and how you see the world?
  • What have you learned about yourself throughout this process?

This exercise is great for anyone who wants to explore themselves, work on understanding and/or creating their identity, and recognizing the different aspects of yourself. This is not only a self-reflective exercise, but an exercise that reminds us that there is more to a person than what we see on the outside, or what is being portrayed on the outside. Remember, not everyone knows your middle layers, or inner core, just like you do not know everyone else’s. No “gobstopper” is the same, and regardless of the different layers of yourself that are seen or unseen, this exercise helps you understand yourself more and begin to accept and celebrate the different aspects that make you who you are.


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