Identity is like one of those presents in unwrapping games: comprised of many layers, some entangled, some easy to remove; and some held down by duct tape making it more challenging to open. As we figure out who we are and find our place in the world, knowing our true identity that resonates within better helps us navigate our journey.
With personal reflection and introspection, we can reveal answers to some of our own questions to allow the gift of our most authentic selves to be seen.
Most times, when people meet for the first time, they ask “What do you do?” rather than “Who are you?”
Although subtle, the slight shift in phrasing prompts us to contemplate deeper on our response; switching our answer from an external projection of ourselves to an inner reflection on who we know ourselves to be. Depending on your sense of self, this may or may not take longer to express, or you might not have a clear answer.
Why is this?
Ever since we were born, we’re surrounded by external influences saying who we are. Ranging from ethnicity and gender, based on your appearance and biology; to comments of who you are as a person based on your actions. Unless we were nurtured to think critically of who we believe we are comparatively to what people see of us outwardly, we may continue believing that our identity is what outer voices tell us rather than listening to our own inner voice.
Unpacking your identity is not always a straightforward process and the journey is completely unique to you. You can choose how deep you want to get into it and what resonates most with you.
To help guide your introspection, parts of your identity you can reflect on include but are not limited to:
- Societal expectations, culture, gender, social status, occupation, upbringing, environment, ethnicity, education, politics, religion, spirituality, sexual orientation, age, physical attributes, ability, experiences, accomplishments
- Groups you are affiliated with, influences from family and friends, community factors
- Values, beliefs, choices, patterns, habits, hobbies, interests
As you think through these different facets of yourself, what stories and limiting beliefs do you tell yourself? Are they intertwined and a reflection of your external influences? Or is the outward projection of yourself your true expression of your inner self?
Emotions play a big role in unpacking our identity because while it is easier to primarily use our brain to categorize ourselves, our feelings and intuition tell us if all these different parts really are in tune with us or not. What parts of you need healing? Does it bring you joy? What will allow you to trust your own inner voice and be your most authentic you?
When you feel like you’ve worked through the pieces of your identity, the fun part is rediscovering who you are.
With clarity, you can choose what you like and don’t like; what you truly believe, and what makes you feel the most genuine. Learn more about parts of your culture or how you were raised that really interest you. You can try something completely new, and see if you have a passion for it.
Align with what resonates with you the most; and expand into how you want to show up and relate to the world.
Your actions become a mirror of who you know yourself to be. Your life journey becomes more intentional because you know your choices come from you. Not from being swayed by others. You know who you are and recognize that you will continue to grow. Keep learning more about yourself and those around you.
After peeling back and unboxing the layers of your identity, what’s left? What’s the gift inside? The beautiful thing is you get to decide.
Who does your reflection show?
Who is the authentic you that wants to be seen?
Header: Noah Buscher