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Identity

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Best friends

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Identity… what is it?

Identity is what makes you who you are and it makes me who I am, two totally separate and unique individuals. There can be no other person exactly like either of us and that is why we are unique, and it is this very uniqueness which gives us our wonderful identities.

Amongst the many definitions of Identity Wikipedia say this in relation to “identity formation” –

“the process of the development of the distinct personality of an individual”.

I had to question the reason why there are so many differing ways to define “identity”. There are personal, corporate, country, sexual, gender and philosophical “identity” and whilst they all have some resemblance to each other they are all also very different. Perhaps the easiest way to understand this abundance of differentiation is to acknowledge that as an individual we are complex creatures and in order to understand something as simple as a person’s identity, it has become necessary to view identity in context to the subject being discussed.

Identity

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So, What is identity?

The above is however, a very clinical way of viewing someone, breaking the very characteristics and behaviours which make people unique into small bite sized chunks of individuality. I believe an identity is the sum total of those characteristics and behaviours which makes an individual unique in comparison to everyone else.  Just as no two people can be the same then no two identities can be “identical”. Even copycats cannot be identical because it is impossible to remove all the individuality of the copycat. Even identical twins are not absolutely identical.

The complexity of ‘identity’ can be seen if you look at the “national/public holidays” a country has. Labour Day is ‘celebrated’ in many western countries. It has created an identity unique to itself by creating a movement to raise the standard of labour laws which had not been seen before. It therefore became part of the national identity to celebrate the ‘global’ change in national identity.

Identity

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What is identity in Australia?

In Australia we, as a nation, are known by the colloquial saying of “She’ll be right, mate”. We are also known as a nation of sun worshipping surfers and athletes. This however is only a small part of the picture. There are many more people who are not sun worshippers, not surfers and definitely not athletes. The national image has corrupted the true individual identity, and also the national identity since it has taken away our ability to be unique.

What is identity in America?

In the US, Thanksgiving has just been celebrated (or is still being celebrated). There is discussion on the relevance of celebrating it, in the manner it is currently. It seems there is always some disagreement over what or how, certain celebrations occur. In context it is a good thing.

Identity

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Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving originated after the Mayflower had landed, half the people had died from illness and the local Indians had helped them to learn how to survive in their new land. At that time it was the creation of a new national identity which is still celebrated today, even though many individuals have changed since then and the national identity has changed, as much as the individual identities have changed to reflect the times. The celebration is one of identity, unique circumstances and the forging of a partnership with the inhabitants of their new land. The celebration remains although much of the original import has been forgotten or changed.

What really is identity?

Identity is the sum total of all the parts which make us who we are. It is the ability to choose our path through life, our spiritual path as well as our family path, career path, life path.   We, as human beings, are unique on the planet in that we can choose to change, to grow, to become more than we are right now.  If we are not happy with who we are, or how we see ourselves and our identity, we can choose to become more.  We can choose to learn more, to understand more, to grow and evolve.  It is human nature to grow and evolve, and we can direct our growth and development, as we choose the identity we wish to present.

Societies, human beings, our unique spiritual beliefs, all form a part of our “identity”.

When we choose to band together, our identities merge to form a group of people with a common bond, purpose and identity.  It may be to celebrate one of these national holidays, or a religious festival.  However, we remain individuals within the group, always with free will, always with the ability and capability to decide to be different, unique, truly an individual, because we do have our own unique identity.

Perhaps this is the most important part of ‘identity’ that needs to be remembered.  Regardless of the group, the bond or the cause, at all times, we have that free will to choose to step out of the group.  We are ‘united’ by the common beliefs, but not necessarily ‘bound’ by them.  It takes strength and courage to be an individual, to accept your own uniqueness, but then, that courage and strength is also part of your identity.

Celebrate it.

identity

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My best friend is ducky!

I believe that identity is a multifaceted and unique part of each person. It makes us a spiritual being unlike any other. The very complexity of our identity is what makes us a global and spiritual masterpiece.

Blessings, Susan x

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
― William Shakespeare

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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