The question of identity has become a hot topic in the news. The particular issues involve difficult questions about ethnicity and gender. Are we limited to how we are formed biologically? Or can we redefine ourselves to match our self-image? And what do we do if those around us find our redefinition unacceptable? Or are there some identities that are unacceptable for people to have?
We may not deal with the issues facing those in the news, but all of us have to deal with the question of identity in our daily lives.
We all have an identity. Actually, we have several.
I am a husband, a father, a grandfather, an employee, a public speaker, and a writer. I’m an American, a Californian, and a citizen of my community. I’m an Apple user and a sports fan. Each of these identities have certain expectations and behaviors associated with them. I spend time with my family, study Apple websites for the latest news, and have my Dodgers and Angels caps ready to take to the game. Some of these identities were defined by my biology and circumstances. Others developed from my upbringing. But many of these identities are ones I chose, whether consciously or unconsciously. All of them form my self-image and determine everything from how I dress to how I vote.
Because identity is so powerful, we have to be careful which ones we craft for ourselves or have others craft for us.
Some identities are destructive. We may have certain labels stamped on us by parents, teachers, friends, and others around us. Labels such as fatty, loser, druggy, or idiot. We may picture ourselves as failures, freaks, or frauds. We may have been conditioned to expect disappointment or to see ourselves as victims.
Creating a self-image can be destructive too. We may aggrandize ourselves to make up for a sense of inadequacy. Or we may engage in harmful behaviors in hopes of being accepted. We may fabricate an image of lies because we think it will get us ahead or because we’re too scared or ashamed of who we really are.
We have to take a long look at how we look at ourselves. Is our self-image true? Does it come from integrity? What need does it fill and is it a valid and worthy one? Does it fit the highest possibility for ourselves? Does it make life better for ourselves and those around us?
Ask yourself, what identity do you have and does it truly fit your best self? Who are you really?