Sunday, August 9, 2009

Our Identities

Wearing a mask or a costume is one way of showing an identity to the world, but the persona that we wear every day is another.

Our identity that we have connected to who we are in relationship with, what we do for a living, and other interests, is another way that we present an identity to the world.

Notice how quickly or thoroughly these can change. If you are a manager with a corporation, you wear a suit and tie and you hand out a business card that identifies you as such, people regard you a certain way.

The same person simply out hiking in a pair of shorts and a T shirt is not seen as anything but another hiker.

If that same person were to show up regularly at dances, everyone would think of them first as a dancer.

There are some couples who are always seen doing something together and their identities become Jane & John, Sue & Dave, etc, with their identities as part of a combination, rather than something separate.

Authors who use a pen name, actors who use a screen name, people who have taken a spiritual name and are always addressed by those names, have only that identity known to others.

When a person changes careers, changes relationships, changes hobbies, or sports, or other activities where they spent a lot of energy, their identity changes with them.

Soon after you are no longer in the same field of work, or living in the same house with the same person, or showing up at the playing field or group meeting, living in the same neighborhood, that identity ceases to exist.

When you start showing up in new places, doing new things, with new people, a new identity takes shape. Our identities are a very fluid thing. If you have had more than one career, more than one long term relationship, moved to different neighborhoods or different parts of the country, enjoyed avid participation in more than one activity, you know just how completely this can change.

How much of our identities are our true self then? Perhaps none of them.

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