The Courage to Defy Identity ~ Defining Clichés Set By Society
“To be nobody-but-yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” ~ E.E. Cummings
We live in a world where every person fights hard to maintain the integrity of selfhood; a world where anyone questioning the current belief system is considered recalcitrant and is shunned. A world which teaches us the importance of our own identity before it inconspicuously burdens us with perceptions of its own.
For most of my life, I readily assumed that my career and education were the source of my self-worth. But with time I have come to realize that they are simply building blocks in the grand scheme that life has laid out for us. Each one, important in its own right in shaping my identity, and yet each one has a very small impact on a macro level.
When I was younger, competition and comparisons fuelled my aspirations. But that was a different time and I have now stepped into a version of myself that does not fear dissenting voices within me and has the courage to defy the outlines set by society and walk on a road of my own to discover my identity.
In doing so, I have come to realize that these 6 things that I talk about below, are often almost instantly used to define the identity of a person. But the truth is that we need to look deeper and tie our identity with things more substantial and meaningful than these.
Your Appearance Should Not Decide Your Worth
I am from a country where beauty is defined in a very limited way. While I can see a change and barriers are being pulled down, many people still live by the belief that appearances make all the difference. It can be difficult to walk over all those thoughts of “I wish I were fairer or skinnier” ~ but the moment you make it to the other side, you would realize that it doesn’t even matter because people will remember you more by the way you make them feel over how you look. Your identity is formed out of the impression you leave on a person’s mind through your words and your actions.
Beauty is transient in nature. There are different perceptions of beauty. Every person has the right to hold their own views but they don’t have the right to force beauty to be a deciding factor for your identity.
Your Education Is Not Proof Of Potential
The words of Iron Maiden’s ‘Educated Fool’ are ringing in my ears as I write this piece. Don’t get me wrong ~ I strongly believe that education plays a significant role in our lives; but it does not, in my opinion, form the identity of “you”, and your education says nothing about how useful you are in society.
My advice would be not to limit your success to your education or intellect. Some of the leading entrepreneurs in the world were school dropouts. Your potential lives deep inside you, irrelevant of the education you receive.
Your Career Does Not Define You
People from a specific walk of life don’t share the same identity. Jobs change with time and so does your view of jobs. What you are doing today professionally may not be what you will be doing a decade later. Regardless of whether you’re a hostess for a hole-in-the-wall eatery or proprietor of a start-up ~ these are probably transitory in your life.
Your career undoubtedly will have a deep impact on your life, and this is why it matters ~ but bear in mind that the position you hold does not characterize the person you are and be mindful not to let others see you through the lens of your career path.
Your Salary and Bank Balance Can’t Judge Character
Your salary and bank balance can tell us how much you earn and how much you spend. Period. They don’t put in the picture the nature of your spends or the impetus behind any of your actions.
You may end up splurging at a casino, contributing towards a cause, or just trying to make ends meet. We oftentimes gauge people in terms of their earnings. I think that there is not a single person whose identity can be summed up through the amount of money they make.
Your Hobbies And Interests Are Not A Window Into Your Soul
I have known a number of individuals who are deeply passionate about their hobbies and interests. Some have even been able to successfully transform them into trade or a flourishing business. I strongly feel that this blog is my “fruits of labour” in following my passion.
But hobbies are not always the colour you want your identity to be painted in. Your hobbies may not offer a peek into your soul, into what you really are on the inside.
Your Past Is Not a Reflection of Your Future
Our lives are a chart of high and low points. We make mistakes, we pass wrong judgements, and we sometimes even become the reason for another person’s suffering. For the most part, our actions are unintentional. And this is the reason we should learn to forgive ourselves. Your past talks about the person you were. Let your present actions define you as you are.
End note: Identity Is Bigger And Much More Encompassing
Small as the word may be, Identity, is much bigger and encompasses a lot more than just these 6 factors. Your actions and words are a much better mirror for your identity. The big and small things you do and the dreams you hope to achieve some day are connected to your soul more intimately than your salary or your education ever will be. Carve out an identity for yourself that does not bend down to rules of conformity laid down by society. Find the courage to defy clichés and to embrace yourself as you are.