The Identity Challenge
It’s highly likely that upon reading the title of this endless musing, a very understandable and natural reaction would simply be, “Dang bruh . . . that’s . . . that’s just heavy.” Guilty as charged I suppose, though that doesn’t negate the necessity of looking at something like the topic of identity and giving it the adequate space it requires in daily living.
For example, when’s the last time you met someone and upon introduction and stating your name, the other party prompted you with the question, “Very nice to meet you . . . who are you?” If we’re really thinking about this for a moment, the answer would be never as that’s a fantastically bizarre inquiry to ask another person and in fact, I may just start doing that for confusion’s purposes if nothing else and because I’m clearly an active troll.
Part of what makes the topic of personal identity so difficult is there’s a cultural expectation for us dwellers stateside as to the areas we can place our identity within and thereby, the way we go about acknowledging our identity as a whole. More times than not, we can gravitate towards confusing what we do with who we are, effectively finding the source of our identity in the activities we engage in rather than the beliefs, values and overall content & context of the character that resides within our hearts. So where are a few common places we can house our identity?
There’s an inescapable shortcoming though that occurs when we use any of the categories above as a means to fully encompass who we are. The challenge is that these things, while all positive in a sense, are temporary and unsustainable. Let’s test this out with the same categories to see if I’m just exhaling an overwhelming amount of hot air or if there’s merit to this:
So at this point, this whole identity understanding is overwhelming & daunting, right? I’m sitting here basically saying in an elongated fashion, “don’t put your identity in anything that can be taken from you,” which carries an emotional gravity alongside it but also creates opportunity going forward. It’s basically creating the challenge of placing your identity in that which can’t be taken or stolen or lost or misplaced. All those aspects exist in the very fabric of who you are as a person; they’re your beliefs (spiritual & non-spiritual alike), your values, your hopes, your ambitions, your personality, your happiness, your sadness, your love, your joy and effectively, every wonderful thing that makes you the singular unique creation that you are.
So here’s a thought process to explore within yourself that can help generate some personalized insight into this as it’s a simple question with a complex, nuanced answer: How would you describe yourself without describing anything that you do?
The answers that are acquired from this introspection can be immeasurably valuable in helping to reshape or redirect identity from something that you do to everything that you are.