Just Who Will You Be? By Maria Shriver

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Just Who Will You Be? Big Question, Little Book. Answer Within by Maria Shriver seeks to remind us that what’s most important isn’t what we do in our lives, but rather who we are at the core. 

At a Crossroads

When Maria Shriver was asked by her nephew to speak at his high school graduation, she was at a crossroads. 

Her husband had been recently elected governor of California, requiring her to leave behind her job (and twenty-five year identity) as “Maria Shriver award-winning network newswoman” at NBC. Feeling unmoored and uncertain, the self-described “people-pleasing, legacy-carrying, perfection-seeking Good Girl” resisted her nephew’s request several times. 

Shriver didn’t know if she was the right person to publicly give advice to young adults when she felt so uncomfortable and without an identity in private.

Eventually, she agreed to speak to her nephew’s class, and part of that speech was a poem she had written that asks the question: Just who will you be?

She intentionally steered away from the cliched “what do you want to be when you grow up”, and asked instead: who is the person you want to become? 

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The speech was so well-received she decided to craft this small, 112-page volume, detailing the ups and downs of that transition as she asked herself that same question, sharing the lessons learned and hard-won wisdom:

“I’ve learned that asking ourselves not just what we want to be, but who we want to be is important at every stage of our lives, not just when we’re starting out in the world. That’s because, in a way, we’re starting out fresh in the world every single day.” 

By Maria Shriver

Just Who Will You Be? 

“I’m still a work in progress and I’m writing my next act now.”

By Maria Shriver

The speech/poem delivered to her nephew’s high-school class that inspired the full-length book is filled with wisdom Shriver herself was still processing in her own life: 

Will you follow the crowd, or follow your gut? Will you be a leader, or anything but?”

“Take time to be quiet, hear what your own voice is, learn who you are by making good choices”

“And don’t be so fearful, you’re too scared to fail, I’ve had my share of failures and lived to tell the tale”

Maria Shriver

Shriver offers other relatable reminders including “show up in your life”, and “avoid materialism”, and “keep trying” along your path to becoming who you are. 


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Other readers appreciated Shriver’s candidness: 

“Shriver encourages her audience to determine what their core values and beliefs are and use those as a foundation for working toward future successes. If you want to go for fame, ask yourself what you want to be famous FOR. She also incorporates reminders that it’s okay, even healthy, to change and adjust your beliefs as you go along. Basically, her message boils down to the often used, if sometimes vague, “be yourself”.  

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Most importantly, Shriver reminds, it’s ok to change your mind if you find yourself heading up the wrong path. Your interests and goals might change over time and that’s ok. She urges the reader to remember, “We’re entitled to our own lives, our own dreams, and goals, our own legacies.” 

Just Who Will You Be? Big Question, Little Book, Answer Within by Maria Shriver reminds us it is never too late to dig deep and discover the person you are meant to be, and live that life authentically. We are all works in progress.

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