“Identity in an Urban Environment”

IMAG2240_1.jpgI am writing from Sydney, but an exploration of my time here will come next week. Today I am concerned with ~identity.~

One specific question that I have been asking myself is if I am the person that I perceive myself to be or if I am the person that others perceive me to be. There is a dichotomy between these two ways of seeing/being because how I view myself rarely aligns with how others view me. I know who I want to be, but I also feel that I am very far away from being that person. I also then wonder about the perceptions that others have of themselves and how they want to be viewed versus how I view them. There are seemingly three levels of separation when addressing identity: how we view ourselves, how we want others to view us, and how others actually view us. The interaction between these three levels play an important role in how we act, how others treat us, and how we feel–this I find fascinating.

I also wonder then, who is the ‘real’ me if there are seemingly three levels to identity. Am I the person I am trying to construct or am I the person that was there originally? Was there someone/something there originally? If there is an ‘original,’ are they–the constructed self and the original self–separate from each other or do they enhance each other? The secrets of what makes up the creature that moves through this world, the creature that wears the face that I have come to think of as mine, I am not privy to why she is the way she is entirely. I experience myself in fragments—I am experiencing myself just as everyone around me experiences me—fragmented. The ego and identity are fragile and they are both trying to form as best they can during these early years because who I am and who I am to the world can either fracture my identity through combat, or they can find a way to coexist. I feel like I have seen many people split in two and this process sometimes appears to be inevitable.

Time for a quick and short list to remind myself who I want to be and how I want to move through this world:

  1. Loving
  2. Mindful
  3. Hardworking
  4. Dedicated….
  5. blahblahblah

But at the same time, what is identity? What the fuck is identity? Not just qualities that can be listed off, but something beyond what can simply be categorized and explained. Travelling to Australia to visit a friend of mine I had a long layover in LAX. I was eating a vegan peanut butter cookie and reading Dostoevsky’s the Idiot when someone took a moment to interrupt me and ask me about my book. They were two South Africans travelling throughout the states for a holiday. During our conversation one of them brought up how we like to categorize everything and he questioned whether or not we should. He expressed that he felt some things should just be left alone, some things we should not attempt to understand further and instead just ‘let it be.’ This sentiment is applicable to many things, in my opinion. We—I—may ask too many questions that may not have an answer, or the answer may be one that will not be ‘enough.’ Living in the moment, as he expressed during our brief conversation, may be one of the best ways of being. It also forces me to accept that who I am, my identity, is in constant flux and trying to answer this question for myself (“WHO AM I??”) is futile. Depending on who I am speaking to, depending on where I am mentally and emotionally, who I am changes with each instant. I am never the same person that you met just a moment ago, and perhaps this is where some of the anxiety of trying to ‘figure yourself out’ comes from. We simply cannot figure ourselves out entirely and we either need to find a place where we are okay with this, or else we will deal with constant angst and questioning. I may not be what I perceive myself to be, and I may also not be the person others perceive me to be, but I am and that should be enough (sometimes).

On a small final note, I feel that this should not stop us from exploring ourselves and trying to understand parts of our psyche. It is important to be alright not knowing and to instead find comfort in the process of constantly exploring and discovering ourselves. In many ways, I do not think we should want to remain the same anyways. To find comfort in an established self seems like a mistake to me because you do not give yourself room to become something new.

Until we speak again,

J.

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