My name's Maddy.

…and I hate “About Me” sections of websites and blogs (this includes any “Bio” portion of a social media profile). They propagate a culture of defining yourself in terms of your achievements or resume, such that the most important things about you become where you went to school, or what you do for work, or where you live. Generally speaking, knowing where you went to school tells me nothing about you as a person.

But because it has become our tendency to identify others by their external features or accomplishments, most of us end up trying to define ourselves in those terms as well. This consequence is even more pronounced in the new world of social media, as we spend hours obsessing over a 150 word Instagram bio, for example, that perfectly encapsulates who we are to any stranger that might come across our profile.

Even before social media (#tbt), I’ve always struggled to decouple my external accomplishments and my self-worth. The problem with having my identity and worth intrinsically tied to bullet points on a resumé is that it a) falls apart when I’m not excelling at certain things, or no longer finding passion in a particular area, and b) it places the focus entirely on tangible achievements that have nothing to do with my core values.

That being said, I’ve divided this “About Me” section into two parts; the first: what I spend my time doing, and the second: who I want to be as a person.

What I Spend My Time Doing:

  • Hanging out with my family and friends.
  • Working as a product manager in San Francisco.
  • Playing lots of squash. I used to play in college, and even had the awesome opportunity to compete in some professional tournaments around the world, but these days it’s mostly just hacking around with 35-year-old men at various squash clubs throughout the Bay Area (and I mean this in the best possible way, it’s a crap-ton of fun).
  • Adventuring outdoors. My favorite thing about where I live is the incredible access to the outdoors, and I take full advantage of it primarily via trail running, biking, and hiking. Nature therapy is real, as are the vitamin D and endorphins I get from sunshine and moving my body. You’ll often find me crying on a trail or dancing on my bike as I climb through the redwoods, because the earth is so freaking beautiful and I feel incredibly full and grateful in those moments.
  • Volunteering in the mental health space, and doing my best to help others when I can. I currently volunteer as the San Francisco Chapter Leader of the national eating disorder nonprofit Project HEAL, and am passionate about bringing access to mental health treatment and support for those who might not otherwise be able to access or afford it. (Message me about any of this! I always want to talk.)
  • Reading and writing. I’m by no means a good writer, but I do find having some sort of creative outlet is beneficial for my health. I sometimes dabble in painting or playing music, and I recently bought myself a keyboard in an attempt to start playing piano again (stay tuned for updates on the success of this endeavor). I love to read, primarily fiction, and am always looking for book recommendations.
  • Listening to music. I’m the self-proclaimed biggest Springsteen fan you’ll ever meet (or at least the biggest below 40 years old).

The Kind of Person I Strive to Be:

  • A good person. I know “good” is a vague word, but I keep coming back to it because it feels the most true for me. I mean this in a totally non-morbid way but, when I die, all I hope is that people say, “She was a good person.” I want to generate more positivity in this world than I do negativity, and I want to come away from life feeling like I had a net-positive impact on the world and on others, especially those to whom I’m closest.
  • A sincere, genuine person. It’s important to me that I stay true to myself and that, even if I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, I don’t sacrifice my beliefs or sense of self. I want my interactions with others to be sincere, and never want people to feel as though I’m being facetious or am not genuinely interested in who they are and what they have to say.
  • A smart person. I don’t mean this in the “formally-educated/fancy-degrees” sense, but rather that I always take the time to think about things critically, and to continually adjust and grow as I actively acquire knowledge and learn from myself and others.
  • A thoughtful person. For me this descriptor is intrinsically entwined with my broad definition of “good,” but it’s important to me that I always consider others in the choices I make and the way I lead my life. I want to be the person who you can count on to send you a handmade card, or a text message just to say I’m thinking of you. These gestures mean the world to me when I receive them, and I want to give others the same experience.

I think that’s about it – for now, at least. The last thing I’ll say here is that I think it’s critical that we allow ourselves the space and compassion to evolve and grow, and the concept of “self-definition” often lies in contrast to that. If I define myself as a “squash player” or a “math major” – as I did for much of my time at Stanford – I end up feeling that I can’t ever not identify myself in that way, and that my worth and significance are comprised only of those external things. But if I continue to center my life and my choices around my values, rather than my accomplishments, I know I’ll end up where I want to be.