Your Self: Choose Your Own Adventure

Episode : . A Blue background with a yellow neuron with a body the shape of a star. Words say Ex-gifted podcast. Helping exceptional kids become functional adults. A Yellow stripe across the bottom reads With Raine Eliza from

Your identity is a deeply complicated topic. TL;DR: You get to choose who you are based on what you value and what you do about it.


Who are you?

Identity is a deeply complicated topic, and who you are is further complicated through the process of growth. Many people want to fix themselves while others just want to be true to themselves, without even knowing what that means or how to do it. Can you be true to yourself if you don’t always say what you think out of fear of hurting someone? What about the parts of yourself you don’t like? Should you learn to like them, or learn to change them? Or just keep on hating yourself and wish you were different?

What we can do about it:

We are defined not by any one moment in time, but our path over a lifetime. This means you can be whoever you want, by taking your chosen path. If you don’t choose, that is itself a choice to continue on whatever is in front of you at the moment, and it might mean going in circles.


Check out my Ko-Fi page! It's the best way to support this show.

The natural 1 membership is for normal people and only costs $1 a month, but still unlocks every single post that you can only get otherwise with a minimum of a $3 donation, as well as the challenges and on-demand content in the Members Hub.

Join the Natural 1 membership for only $1/month!

And all monthly subscribers at either level will get a shoutout at the end of each episode of Ex-Gifted! (please message me with the name I should use!)

My current goal is to reach a modest $20 every month. As I've redesigned and cut back, this is approximately my monthly budget for podcast hosting, web domains, email service, and all those other little things that add up. Once I reach that point – I’m having a party and will look forward to putting out some rewards and coming up with some kind of fun goal other than just breaking even.

You can also find me at on Instagram and for more executive dysfunction tips and commiseration.


Kawai Kitsune by Kevin MacLeod



About the Ex-Gifted Podcast:

If you are a former gifted kid who grew up to struggle with basic adulting, then you need the Ex-Gifted podcast.

Host Ren Eliza talks about gifted kid burnout, and the damage that lasts long into adulthood. Damage like battered self esteem, decimated internal motivation, and a continued failure to live up to expectations even while we were placed on pedestals and alienated from our peers.

Ex-Gifted will cover failure, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and chronic anxiety and depression, and a whole lot more.

Each episode also offers suggestions to deal with your executive dysfunction in adulthood so you can rebuild the systems that allowed you to shine so brightly in childhood.

We’re making exceptional children into functional adults.



Hi Friends – Welcome to Ex-Gifted. I’m Ren Eliza, how the hell are ya? Sorry, I mean WHO the hell are you?

We’ve been talking for months now about growth.

Growing means changing

But should we change?

Well…should we be the same people we were as teenagers?

If you aren’t the same person you were 10 or 20 years ago, then which one is the “real you”?

So that brings me back to….Who are you?

Are you your brain or your body? Are you your behavior? Your beliefs? Your values? Your thoughts or feelings? Are you other people’s impressions of you? Are you your results on a personality quiz, or your zodiac signs?

A lot of you hear that list and think yes to some combination of those things. I certainly do. But a lot of you are also thinking “DEFINITELY YES THIS IS THE ANSWER” to certain items on that list. But the thing is – others are thinking exactly the same thing but for DIFFERENT answers. Some of you are nodding and thinking very loudly that “Yes of course we are our thoughts” while others are jumping to your feet and pounding your hands on the table insisting “we are our actions.” Okay that’s maybe a bit dramatic, but…

The point is, there is a consensus that you should “be yourself” and absolutely none on who “yourself” even is – so how are you supposed to know who to be?

And if you grow and change TOO much, are you still yourself? Or are you avoiding or covering up who you really are?

I see people on social media saying that it’s so much easier to just be yourself than to be anyone else. But often there’s an underlying assumption here that being yourself means being the default version of you that comes out without any examination. This assumption is absolutely incorrect.

Because we are all are products of decades (centuries, even, because this shit’s systemic) of programming that have changed our defaults, to move them out of alignment with our values.

Being yourself isn’t that easy. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.

It’s more rewarding. It’s more comfortable (although not when you’re still learning how to do it). It’s more enjoyable. It’s infinitely more fulfilling.

But no, I wouldn’t say it’s easier. And the unpacking and discovery never ends.

People in the autistic community know this well. It’s a process called “unmasking” where one undoes years of childhood training to act more neurotypical and fit in better with their peers and make their parents not worry so much about how weird they are. Sometimes – especially for those who are undiagnosed into adulthood – this training is done automatically through social conditioning but for many autistic people diagnosed as children, it is done deliberately via up to 40 hours a week of ABA. But the inherently abusive nature of behaviorism is a topic for another day…

Because whether you’re autistic or not, you’ve been subject to decades of molding that has greatly influenced who your “true self” is. It becomes nearly impossible to determine where the mask ends and you begin. Autistic masking takes a toll mentally, emotionally, and even physically so it’s important to do the work which allows you to choose when to put the mask on and, say, smile at strangers and fake eye contact at work, and when to take it off, like maybe wearing your headphones when you go grocery shopping and ignoring everyone.

Who’s to say which version is more real? Well – you are. All that matters is which one you like. If you have a powerful resting bitch face, but you like the feeling of smiling at strangers sometimes, you’re allowed to do it without feeling like you’re being fake.  You get to choose who you are.

Let’s get a little deeper though. If you have a problem with internalized misogyny, or some other complaint where you’re not living in alignment with your values, you don’t have to accept it because that’s “just the way you truly are deep down” – but usually that’s what we do. We hate them, but we accept them as fundamental parts of our core identities. We take these trainings instead as immutable truths because they’re wired in and hard to change, and we hate and criticize ourselves for them at the same time.

If you have a lot of things you dislike about yourself, then you probably love talk about personal growth and self-improvement. Because it can be such a powerful weapon to yield against yourself. It’s easy to jump straight to fixing or changing yourself. This will never lead to self-love or self-acceptance because there’s an infinite number of things for you to hate about yourself. Once you “fix” one, another will take its place.

Especially in neurodivergent and mental health communities, or just any of us misfits in general, we have spent so MUCH of our lives trying to fix and change ourselves for other people’s benefit that once we finally start finding others like ourselves and breaking the stigma, we become wary of any kind of talk about change or growth.

And with good reason! Any kind of change intended to fix yourself is fundamentally flawed. It’s always impossible to fix yourself because believing you’re broken is the problem.

So what’s the alternative? What do we do about deep-seated misogyny or racism or any other legitimate criticisms we have about ourselves?

We take a lesson from The Dude. We abide. Acknowledge and forgive the parts of yourself that you don’t like. Don’t deny or fight or despise those traits. And definitely don’t attack yourself just for having them, especially if you weren’t the one to plant them in the first place. But also don’t yield and give in to them.

Don’t accept them as your fate. Because You choose who you are. If you value anti-racism then acknowledge your racist traits. When you have a racist thought, don’t just shout it down. Ask yourself, “Whoa where did that come from?” Once you actually have the root, that’s when you have the opportunity to actually pull it out, and practice a different thought in its place that actually aligns with your values.

Learning to differentiate between a mess of beliefs and personality traits and your identity is key to personal growth. Because yes, throughout the process your identity will change. That long list from the beginning of the episode? If you’re doing it right, you’ll change almost every single one of those things. Even your values are likely to shift as you examine them more closely and gain experience

So if you ask me, you are whoever you choose to be. But – I don’t know if you’ve noticed – it’s fucking hard to make that kind of decision and then actually stick to it. That’s the whole reason I invented the Roleplanning System and the Quest for Chaos. I want to offer people something I could’ve used myself – guidance on finding my values and assistance actually living up to them. The planner itself is just to keep track of the how – what really matters is the why.

If this sounds like something you need too, then go check it out at and see if it looks like something that could help you. The real magic is in the 3 months of support in the Quest for Chaos that comes included!

If you don’t need the help – and let’s be clear: it’s okay if you do need help. We love to shame ourselves for needing help with things that “should” be easy tasks for us to do on our own and end up struggling needlessly and usually spending twice as much in the long run. Definitely not talking about myself buying gimmicky cleaning supplies in order to trick myself into cleaning which definitely doesn’t work instead of just hiring someone who knows what they’re doing…

But if you DON’T need the help, the answer is still the same.

It’s a two-step process

  1. Choose who you want to be.

  2. Be that person.

Let’s be clear that this will likely result in doing things you don’t want to do in the moment, and also in a lot of things that make you uncomfortable. That’s okay. This goes back to the assumption that the real you is whoever comes out by default. Choosing who you want to be is not the same thing as doing what you want to do moment to moment.

If you love running and want to be a person that goes for a jog first thing in the morning, that won’t make the desire to hit the snooze button go away. You don’t wait until you naturally become a person who doesn’t like to sleep in. You choose to be a runner, and then you become that person. That’s not pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s being exactly who you are meant to be- by your own design!

It’s okay to choose to be uncomfortable for your long-term benefit. It doesn’t mean that you’re a poser or that you’re not being true to yourself. Do you think Simone Biles and Michael Phelps want to wake up and train every morning? Do you think they never push themselves to the point of discomfort? Of course not – either assumption would be absurd. But does that mean she isn’t meant to be a gymnast or that he isn’t meant to be a swimmer? That’s clearly just as absurd. They are each who they choose to be.

Even if comfort is what you value over all else – and it’s not a bad choice in my own worldview- you’ll likely have to make yourself uncomfortable sometimes in order to maximize comfort overall. If you avoid the discomfort of cleaning, you’ll soon end up in an uncomfortable home.

Just because we refuse to change for someone else’s benefit doesn’t mean we can’t change for our OWN benefit. And sometimes this can be a tough knot to untangle. Should you put more effort into housework so your mom won’t bug you about it anymore when she visits? Fuck no.

But who actually benefits most from your having a clean…er house? Not the outsiders nagging you about it, but you and anyone else who lives there. So yeah put more effort into you if it ACTUALLY bothers you (this is where we have to unpack that programming first – does it bother you or is that your training talking?) but do it as self-care.

Do it for YOUR benefit. Clean to be selfish and indulgent. If you can’t even imagine that, then you probably don’t actually care that much about about cleaning and that’s fine. Or more likely, you do care, but it’s so far down your list of priorities that you can’t even see it and that’s fine too. Your house may never be cleaner than it is today. You can still love yourself and feel joy in your home.

Stop desperately chasing change in order to fix yourself. Stop desperately avoiding change for fear of the unknown. Ren? I’m talking to you. Embrace the change that comes with the seasons of life. Be open to opportunities for growth that will bring more joy into your life. And at every turn, forgive yourself.

Imagine walking up to a tree and asking it why it keeps stretching its branches and growing taller and wider when it’s perfectly good as it is? But like…you cast Speak with Plants on yourself first because otherwise it wouldn’t understand you. Actually even with the spell it wouldn’t understand you. The question is inherently flawed because it assumes that growth and the corresponding change is meant to fix some lack or flaw in who we are.

What if growth and change IS who we are? What if a human identity can’t be defined in any one moment in time, but only by the experiences and adaptations of a lifetime? And what if that means that the you of today and the you a year from now look entirely different, but that neither one is right or wrong or better or worse or good or evil, they’re both just the you you needed to be? You can change even when nothing at all has gone wrong.

What if not all who wander are lost?

Until next time, tell your tree friend that I said, “Keep growing.”


Support the show (

Privacy Policy - Disclaimers