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“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken” – Oscar Wilde
How would you describe yourself? Is there something in particular that really captures who you are compared to everyone else? Before we can reach our goals, I truly believe we need to understand our identity. Perhaps more than understand it, we can (to an extent) choose who we decide to be.
What Is Identity?
I’ve always thought the question of identity is a tough one to answer. If you search through the Internet, you’ll find articles like this one from Psychology Today reminding us that to be happy, we need to “find our true self” and live in harmony with it.
What does finding our true identity mean though?
Personally, I think identity comes from a few different places:
- Your Role In Society – Usually, this comes down to what we do for a living, or who we take care of. Some people identify themselves with their jobs or careers, while others define themselves more using their role in their family or with their loved ones.
- How You See Yourself (Confidence & Self-Esteem) – Personally, I think this is the most important part of identity. Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I’ve perfect this area. However, I do know that believing we can do something truly helps us visualize it and get there – even if it’s at a snail’s pace!
- How Others See You – While some place a lot of emphasis on this one, I’m someone who prefers to keep this as a secondary part of my identity. If this is an important one for you, brainstorm out how you feel others see you. In fact, you could even ask others who are close to you what they feel you identify as.
- Goals You Set – A future vision of who we will be is key to defining our identity. A homeowner. An EU citizen. A full-time blogger. A _______(insert dream job here).
Conformity & Identity
Conformity is one of those topics that I love to talk about. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved reading books and watching films about heroes and heroines that find their own way in life. Strong boys and girls that are different, but manage to shine.
Of course, there are a ton of examples of these in literature, but a modern one of Wonder comes to mind. The True Adventures of Charlotte Doyle and Anne of Green Gables – characters who always had the spirit to embrace their identity – were favourites growing up. Of course, they went through their own journeys to get there, but even as a kid, I found them inspiring.
5 Ways To Discover Your Unique Identity
Well, after a heck of a lot of career change decisions, and having the amazing experience of living in 5 different countries other than my own, I put together some thoughts on identity.
Here are my 5 tips:
1. Remember Your Childhood Passions
We often forget about our childhood passions or dismiss them as foolish fancies. The more life experience I get, the more I realize that what I loved when I was a child is closer to what I should be doing, not farther away.
Somewhere along the path, I managed to stop writing the way I used to, or playing music, or volunteering. The activities that filled my teen years faded, and others filled their place. I’m still working on getting back to some of those!
2. Brainstorm Your Dream Job
I love visualizing! If you’re an avid reader of my blog, you’ve probably already seen my thoughts on visualization. Even more important than being able to see your goals happen, is to launch yourself forward to reach them.
3. Travel (Or Meet New People)
Be bold. Travel. If you don’t like to travel, at least meet new people. Every time I try a new activity and bring new friends into my life, I feel refreshed. Now I don’t mean that the people in my life already don’t fulfil me; it’s more that new perspectives can be refreshing. They also us to see ourselves having new identities.
For example, I when I decided I wanted to learn to surf and found it incredibly difficult, I couldn’t quite picture myself as a “surfer”. However, with a little help from girls I met on the course, I may be off on a surf camp trip next spring. Being bold and just going for it really pays off sometimes.
4. List Qualities To Accept & Those To Change
Okay, this one’s quite simple. Make a list of adjectives that describe who you truly think you are. Imagine yourself in situations and see how you react; how would you describe that reaction?
Which of those descriptors are positive, and which are negative? Are there any you want to change?
It’s a short activity, but it really helps define what you want.
5. Know Your Why
Of course, I saved the best for last. Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on Inspiring Action is one of my all-time favourites. He reminds us that we need to define WHY we want the goals we set, not only go for them. When I was making a decision to change career paths, one of the activities that really helped me was to map out my options. Then, once I had a career map, I associated my “why” with each possible path.
The path we should take becomes so much more clear when we define the “why”!
Here’s the TED Talk in case you haven’t seen it:
Well, that’s the end of this short post! Are you a conformist or nonconformist? What defines your identity?
I’d really love to hear your thoughts, so please don’t be shy and leave a comment 🙂
Have a lovely and productive week!
P.S. Photography fans, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Keswick, UK in 2014.
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