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Who am I?

Tell me about yourself. Who is Olivia Grace Barnes? What do you think I should know about you?


These are fairly standard interview questions, questions that are asked to learn more about who a person is than what that person has done.


But as common as these questions are, I still struggle with answering them in a way that I truly believe encompasses who I am.


Who am I?


Depending on who asks, my answers vary.


I am a competitive swimmer eager to create a greater diversity of athletes in the elite swimming world by using my athletic platform as a tool of inspiration for swimmers of all ages, abilities, and circumstances to become competitive swimmers.


I am a nature enthusiast passionate about creating change around how the world appreciates, protects, and restores the beauty, strength, and health of the natural world, specifically marine environments.


I am a teenage self-directed learner interested in challenging the traditional educational system by exploring topics I am curious about and creating engaging projects that demonstrate how much I have learned.


I am a visual artist who aspires to make social change through my paintings, drawings, and photographs of current problem points in our world.


But recently, I have begun designing a single phrase. One that does encompasses my WHY in life as opposed to my HOW or my WHAT.


So, who am I? I am a difference maker using my skills and gifts of competitive swimming, painting, photography, written and oral communication, and leadership to inspire people to challenge the norm and embrace their unique differences so that TOGETHER we can change the world.


Unfortunately, our world pushes and prioritizes conformity. And yes, it is safer to think, act, and behave just like everyone else, but it is also much less impactful. Imagine a stained-glass window where every single piece of glass was the same color and the exact same shape. That window would be boring to look at.


Now imagine a mosaic filled with hundreds of pieces of glass of different shapes and colors all fitted together to form a picture, a story, a masterpiece of color and light.


I like to picture our world as a beautiful mosaic, each person as a piece of stained glass, beautiful individually, but EXTRAORDINARY when put together in a stained-glass window. Only whenever we embrace the unique color and shape of the glass that we are can we truly contribute to the beauty of the whole window.


Luckily, or perhaps unluckily, for us, there are more than enough problems in our world to act upon. All of us have unique God-given gifts, interests, and passions that when put to use, have the potential to change the world.


This week I encourage you to think differently about who you are and why you do what you do. Challenge yourself to see if you have fallen into the trap of conformity and explore the passions and interests that make you uniquely you.


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