A lot of coaching and promoting mental and psychological wellbeing comes from building a strong sense of identity. It’s good to know who you are and what you stand for. And identity is something that has come up in conversations recently for me – as well as in study. And identity is a strong theme across the world. Consider the current passionate conversations relating to gender and sexual identity. And consider too the apparent rise of nationalism across the world with resultant impacts on immigration laws and trade agreements etc.
So I would like to share with you some musings I’ve been having about identity lately. This is not evidence or fact – it’s more closely aligned with opinion or belief. My only desire is to encourage thought and respectful conversation. So I’m interested to hear your responses.
Who is my I?
I have a name – but I am more than my name.
I have a body and a gender and a sexuality – but I am more than those things.
I have a personality and likes and dislikes and possibly some quite annoying quirks and endearing eccentricities – but I am more than that.
I have a family, and children, and friends and a community – but they do not define me – I am more.
I have a nationality and an ethnicity and a religion – many people might label me for those things – and make all kinds of assumptions – but I too am more than those things.
I have thoughts of my own – but I am more than what I think.
I have feelings – often strong ones – but they don’t define me either. I am more than my feelings.
I do things, achieve things, have a career, qualifications, skills and talents – but I am more than all that too.
There are just as many things that I can’t do, find hard, struggles with. Things that challenge me and elicit my vulnerability. But if I am more than the things I do – I surely am more than the things I can’t or won’t do.
There are so many aspects to me – capacities, strengths, weaknesses and things I’m not even aware of. But truly I am more than those things. More than the sum of things.
If these things do now own me, then in some way, I must own them.
Who then, is the I that has all these things?
Whose eyes am I really looking out of as I experience, make sense of and act in the world?
It’s as if these capacities, and activities are my clothing or a mask – ways of expressing the real me – the real I – yet hiding the real me at the same time. The real me who is somehow bigger and incapable of being defined by these things.
Perhaps then, my I is my existence.
And yet while I exist – all existence is not me.
So, in a great leap of insight, I come to the idea that the real me – the essence – is indefinable – a sort of human life force that has awareness and will and desires. A soul perhaps. Or spirit. Certainly something not physical – and yet something no less real. Something that can wear many different hats and ways of seeing – and yet distinct from all that.
So maybe I, in my existence, am a mere small “i”. A spark – but not the whole.
How am i?
Perhaps then, asking who is the “I” or the “i” is the wrong question.
Maybe a better question is how does this “i” show up in the world. What is it’s character? How does it treat people? How does it contribute?
Is my “i”
Looking beyond self to other in transcendence of self and of service to the world?
Perhaps then, this is the real question of life, the universe and everything? Perhaps identity is less about authenticity, and more about responsibility?
I wonder what you think? Please let me know…