Identity Mondays

“Identity Mondays” is one day out of the week reserved for learning a little more about different people from all walks of life.

It is a chance to be inspired by their life stories; of what they’ve done with their careers, personal lives and social realms.  

Everyone struggles with the existential question of “Who Am I?”  From a very young age, people begin searching deep within just to unearth some sort of profound answer to that common question.  Perhaps the expectation is if there is an answer, then life will somehow be all set. There is already a purpose inside each one of us but unfortunately, it becomes hazed or even silenced early on by a set of societal and cultural expectations.  We are told that in order to fit in we must conform to the status quo. We are shaped by where we live, who we surround ourselves with, what we tolerate and what we allow ourselves to feel.

As growing teenagers and early adults, when questioned about our identity, we scramble to put a label on ourselves.  Unfortunately, certain tragic events early on tend to shape our identities as well. These labels drive our whole existence from early on.  Our identities are shaped in certain ways depending on which labels we have agreed our existence to. The fear of being different is unimaginable and, therefore, we play it safe.  If I’m my true self, will others reject me? Will I be accepted for the way I look and the clothes I wear? Most of the time, the answers are negative and we begin to do what others do, act how they act, and eventually we become just like our peers/colleagues/neighbors/relatives instead of embracing our true selves.  

But as time goes on and seasons of life change, the true purpose begins to creep up wanting a life of its own and the dissatisfaction of the current life unfolds.  Some try to squash it and pretend that who they were early on in life is still existent. Some question it and attempt a few changes, convincing themselves that this time it will be different.  Others are too far in and content with not being themselves to change.

At some point, major life events such as divorce, death of a loved one, or retirement hit and people are once again forced to figure out their identities.  This time dealing with the question “Who do I want my future self to be?” This is a fresh opportunity to once again examine deep inside to figure out the purpose inside each one of us.   Our purpose is still there and just needs us to agree for it to emerge.

Along with our personal identity struggles, there are also work and social identities.  Not only do people have to figure themselves out personally, but now they have to figure out what it means for them in terms of the impact they have on others.   

In order to be an effective influence on others, we must first figure out our true identities and ourselves.  What characteristics define your true self? Who would you like to eventually become? Character isn’t built in a day or a week, it’s a journey.  It takes time. You need time to learn lessons and become who you were meant to be all along. As Joss Whedon states “Identity is something that you are constantly earning.  It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in. It’s not just parroting your parents or the thought of your learned teachers. It is now more than ever about understanding yourself so you can become yourself.”

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