An image of a person sitting on a beach, looking toward the ocean.

WHO ARE YOU? THOUGHTS ON IDENTITY

Who are you? The identity cards in your wallet, they’re not quite you, you’re not that grey and strange rendition of yourself taken in a photo booth of some overlit supermarket. The books you own, that complicated combination of inherited classics and your own choices, they’re a part of you, you think. Are you your habits? Are you the lemon water you drink, or the exercise you do, the work successes? Are you your bad habits? The bite of a nail, the short temper, the unforgiving grudges you hold?

Playlists of music, you make them to try to contain pieces of yourself. The drum beats, the guitar piece which you learned last year, the hand claps, the rhythm. But it’s not you, is it? The way you hum to yourself when nobody is around, filling the gaps in the space with something. Your penchant for karaoke, the secrets you keep, the snacks you eat, the media you consume. Is this you?

Are you what you own? Are you the collections of things which you have compiled through years of life? The stacks of clothing in your drawers, the socks you got as a holiday gift, your furniture. If it isn’t all a part of you, then why did you spend so much time curating it all?

Who are we? We are, each of us, fragments of all of these things stuck together. We are not one note, but a melody. We are our good intentions, our flawed outcomes, we are our guilty pleasures, our passions, our stresses. We are, to some degree, what we own, because our life is informed by it. Our clothing choices in the morning are based on what is in our closet, our favourite colours, our plans for the day. Our music choices, similarly, are based on our language, our life experiences, our feelings.

When you feel fragmented, it is important to recognise that this is what makes you whole. That there is no one part of you, but that you are a complex collective. Perhaps if we can recognise this of ourselves, we can recognise it in others. We can be more forgiving, more interested; we can look for ourselves in other people and we can empathise.

Perhaps the question isn’t who are you, but what are you made of?

Featured image: Engin Akyurt via Pexels.

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