Recently I was talking with someone about their identity; not the type that gets stolen, but the personality or the “real” person type, your character. Your identity is who you really are and not just what you see. You carry an “ID” that shows your identity; you need it to drive and do most anything else as an adult. However that doesn’t show “who” you are, just a bit about you. And if the photo on your drivers license is like mine, it might be just enough to prove to the cop you are who you say you are; but for my photo, it would be hard to pick me out of a group if I was standing in the middle of Beijing.
What we end up with for our real identity is based on a lot of factors. When we start our lives we are the supreme king (or queen) of the universe. The world and everything in it rotates around us, well our stomachs. When we are hungry or uncomfortable, we expect immediate service. With some coaxing from our parents, or perhaps a bit of discipline, this attitude eventually goes by the wayside. Although it seems like some folks still think they are the center of the universe, but that is another column altogether.
Early on we look up to our parents as role models; we want to do what they do and act like they act. It is good when those parents are healthy role models for their kids. Often kids will even follow along in the same profession as their father or mother. For me, my father was very funny, so I grew up with a lot of humor. I tried to be humorous as well and make people laugh, although that might be debatable at times. I also tried to copy the mannerisms of some comedians. However most school teachers find great humor a bit of a distraction and so discourage it, harshly at times.
The next stage in life is really where we lose our minds when it comes to identity. We have no idea who we are, and we give in to the tremendous peer pressure. Through most of our school years, we are followers; even the apparent leaders are really just following someone else. This is a time when we can get into serious trouble. We do things to fit in, and sometimes that is a huge mistake.
One of the ways this peer pressure shows is the clothing we wear; we will wear a style that a famous or popular person wears, regardless of how uncomfortable or ridiculous it might be.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a somewhat rural area of Texas. The manner of dress was jeans and boots and western style shirts. Now I might add that some of the shirt styles were less than, well let’s just say they lacked some class. The daily shirts were typical, save the ‘mother of pearl’ snaps. However some of the “nicer” shirts were a bit more colorful. Had I stumbled into a Western Swing concert I might have been mistaken for a member of the band. We usually wore normal jeans and just regular boots. I still wear cowboy boots today; they are comfortable to me and stylish. And you never know when you might need the protection they offer; I have yet to run across a snake and need the boots to keep from getting bitten, but you never know.
When we finally become an adult, we start to formulate just who we really are and can become the person that is deep down inside. This works to fit us into our jobs and finds us our friends. We can make use of our strengths and avoid our weaknesses. We can continue this change throughout our lives. Often we mature and some of the more positive things, like patience, become stronger. A good example is couples that have either a lot of children or a wide gap between them. They are nothing like the parents of the first child when it comes to their last. I have spoken with some of these parents, and they say that it was so much better with their last (usually a surprise child) than their earlier ones.
Of course there are exceptions to all of this. Some people never grow up; some just follow all their lives. That is why groups and gangs exist. People like to fit in; we like to be liked. We have a need to be accepted, and sometimes our identity gets in the way. We sometimes buy vehicles to express our identity in an outward fashion, the same with tattoos and of course clothes. Sometimes I look at the way a person is dressed and just wonder what they were thinking or what they are trying to say, or even if they have a mirror in their house. We all are unique, we need to find that person and become who it may be. That person is the identity that your friends like, or makes you successful at work or sports. It may fit on the description on your drivers license, but it is a lot deeper and a lot more important.