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  • Writer's pictureMagali Jeger

Identity

A concept I believe most of us struggle with is identity. The word itself may have different meanings depending on who you are. But I find it a difficult word. Something which can either be positive or negative, make you part of a group or excluded from another. It can be determined by the month by which you were born or the patch of land on which your mother birthed you. And often you aren't sure whether it's something you can or can't control. Why is this?


There are 2 definitions of the word that I came across:

  1. the distinguishing character or personality of an individual : individuality.

  2. the relation established by psychological identification.

The meaning itself corresponds with the idea we give it: that our identity is determined by things such as race or ethnicity, gender, social class or socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, (dis)abilities, and religion or religious beliefs. Those are what we call social identity; you will be surrounded by people in similar groups.


On the other hand, you might disregard certain elements that are technically a part of your identity. This usually happens when another element is more prevalent. Such as for instance: if you come from a religious Christian background but identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ society. In this case one might experience an identity crisis.


And nowadays we hear those words a lot: people having an identity crisis. I often experience this and I hear many others who feel the same way. And a big part of it might be the fact that we live in such an outspoken world. Morals are continuously questioned, social constructs are changing and thus the meaning of "identity" becomes so much broader. It isn't just about where you were born, what your social class is or whether you're a man or woman. There is a much wider spectrum to be a part of, and thus people might ask themselves: "where do I belong on this spectrum?"


The problems we often face is that it is beneficial to put everyone into boxes; just look at astrology, Myer's Briggs, Insight's Discovery, Carl Jung's 12 Archetypes.... and even Buzzfeed quizzes. It's so much easier to identify where you belong and find people who fit into that same box. And it believed that this tool can help you understand yourself a little bit better. If you know your rising-, moon- and star-sign, you might understand why you keep on holding grudges or why you feel the constant need to be liked by others.


It is comforting to know exactly who you are, but not always right. Everyone that looks at you sees you wearing a different jacket. Even you might see yourself differently day to day, or even hour to hour. And that is the hard truth.


Now, this doesn't mean identity is all wrong. There are plenty of great groups that help people understand themselves a little better like for instance the Jewish LGBTQIA+ community in London, or the African-American poets society, or even the Italian expat community in New-Zealand. We definitely inherit or become familiar with certain aspects of our culture and it is great to share these similarities with people who come from a similar background.


However, it is also good to get out there and challenge your identity or beliefs on what that word means. Who you are can change over time, and not feeling stuck into one way of living is always beneficial. Even if that means that you need to get out of your comfort zone. It is easy to judge others from the comfort of your own identity, but it might be more worthwhile to try and understand why they are who they are, where they're coming from and how you can find a middle-ground.




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