This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.
When we talk about our identity – the bits of ourselves we call “me” – speaking of it as a unified whole is a bit of a misnomer. Just as “the” internet is actually a “network of networks”, our identity is actually an identity of identities.
It is not singular. It is a multitude of identities that are all glommed together and combine to form how we relate to the world at large and how we act within it.
This conglomeration doesn’t always produce the same results. Many of our identities have bits that are contradictory to each other. Others, while not necessarily at odds, nevertheless differ. In certain situations, one identity may wield its influence to a much greater extent than another, producing different reactions and different behaviour. And not all identities hold the same strength. Certain identities (we could call them core identities) loom pretty large and they make their presence known quite often, guiding the action. Yet even with those overarching identities there are times where we may look at our behaviour and wonder what’s going on, given how it seems to be at odds with who we think or say we are…
The notion of “Who we are” starts to get a bit more complex.
What can become part of our identities is also very diverse, open to a wide range of themes and concepts. Some are personal, such as how we be in the world: being nice, being smart, being independent, being strong, being right, etc. Some are built around values*: fairness, ecology, family, kinship, self-preservation, growth, might makes right, individualism, etc. Others, many, are shared constructs built around a whole panoply of things and motifs: music, sports, products, religion, activity, wealth, ideology, world views, cultural groupings; and social groups and views: class, gender, orientation, employment, and more. Hyper-social constructs abound too: local, regional, and country identities.
They’re all up there, all lending their influence to creating your identity of the moment.
Some are well known to us. We could sit and write them down.
Others are more hidden from our everyday view – though they may be well on display and known by those around us.
When we get our own richness of identity, we gain access to examining and developing a deeper understanding of ourselves. Becoming present to our identities as identities gives us access to choosing who we want to be.
Even better, when we see our own richness, we become resilient to reducing others to a one-note character.
The concept of identity is a deep well. More next week.
* – Which in turn begat additional ways of being…