What’s your identity? You’re allowed only 5 characteristics

Alexei Sorokin
3 min readFeb 21, 2022

It’s an interesting mental exercise — to describe your identity. Stating the obvious, our sense of identity has very powerful implications for many areas of our lives. It influences how we behave, how we present ourselves, our mental health, our habits, goals in life, and aspirations. It can also put our lives on a slippery slope. For example, if some integral part of our identity — maybe the company we work for, or some relationship — breaks apart, it can be really painful; it can feel that the foundation on which we stand, the ground beneath our feet, is no longer in place.

To avoid overanalyzing myself, I thought I’d limit the description to only five points.

I don’t have a precise recipe for doing this exercise. I guess one way to think is this: when you present yourself to strangers, what do you mention about yourself, your hobbies, your career, and your family?

Below is my list, in no particular order. I should note that identities are not static. How I define myself now, approaching the age of 42, will likely be different from how I will be twenty years from now.

  • I’m Russian. I always mention this, even when not asked, for example, when I introduce myself or when I interview. There is no profound reason for this mention. Maybe it’s a source of pride, maybe — insecurity. I have a slight accent. I came to the US for the first time when I was 14 — not young enough to learn to speak English accent-free. I used to feel insecure about it, so perhaps now, in my adult years, I feel like it getting it out of the way right away, to satisfy people’s curiosity.
  • I have four kids. Often I’d add “we had two, then we had twins”, as if I’m a little apologetic about having so many kids! I’m not apologetic. I love having a large family. I’m going to cheat here and add another point. It’s technically a separate point but it’s related to my family. Actually, it’s several related points. Family is very important for me. I’ve been together with my wife for over twenty years. Being in a single long-lasting committed relationship is very important for me. Again — I’m not analyzing why it’s important; not saying it’s good or bad.
  • I’m a runner! Well, that’s self-explanatory. I’d always run, but most recently have taken my passion for running to a new level. 72 miles of running this week, and a lovely 21-mile long run today. I run every day. Actually, I’m starting to think I’m more…
Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day. More here: https://linktr.ee/alexei.sorokin