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What Is Identity?

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Identity is what makes a person them. Identity is the set of memories, relationships, values and experiences that we use to form our sense of self. The creation of an identity is something that can happen without someone even noticing, and this sense of self can creep up passively until we become who we are today; but the story doesn’t end there.

It is typically agreed that one of the reasons growing up can be so difficult is because forming an identity is a difficult thing to accomplish. Typically an individual will look outside and cherry pick bits and pieces of certain traits from different people to find what works best for them. This also explains the congregation of cliques we see during our developmental years when individuals will form into groups that do similar things, dress like each other and find comfort in sharing identity and the validation of it. 

As we transition from adolescence to adulthood however, even more options and opportunities become open to us, as the pressure of finding our place in society dials up. With this, the complexities and opportunities for our identity are multiplied. Choices such as our career, partners, family and many other factors have to be reconciled, whilst at the same time we have to grapple with what we want to accomplish or do. 

It is said that birds of a feather flock together., Tthis is just another way of saying that those who have similar senses of identity will find comfort with  those who are like them, as a form of validation. Likewise, humans who have their sense of identity challenged can find this deeply distressing and unsettling, to the point where the whole world feels like it’s tumbling down around them. 

As one ages, and comes to grips with existentialism (that can be triggered from something like the death of a loved one or even retirement) people often re-explore their sense of identity and what is important to them. Identity is then something that can be in a constant state of flux. Humans are adaptable creatures and our changing sense of identity, as we age, is testament to this.

Myths About Identity:

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The greatest myths about identity are that we are defined by what we do, what we look like, who we know or what we have done. There is a big difference between identity and reputation. Identity is something that we have to carve out for ourselves and judged by ourselves. Reputation is what comes from the external.  

Finding An Identity:

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One of the big questions, “Who am I” is something that most spend their whole lives trying to get to the bottom of. Understanding everything about ourselves is seemingly impossible and, with something as complex as a human being, often more answers just lead to an increasing amount of questions. 

Identity covers many different facets of life including sexuality and gender. This can cause great distress and pain for certain individuals when, unlike the majority, they cannot easily see points of reference to reconcile what they feel or what is going on inside them. This is especially true throughout childhood and can lead to a delay in coming closer to one’s sense of self.

Asking the important questions of the self, remaining truthful and understanding the gap between who one is and who one wants to be, can be a catalyst for self-growth.

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