I was sitting in an interview years ago and the manager asked me who I was. I told him my name, but he only repeated the question. I didn’t know what he was asking me. Did he want me to describe what I did? “No, I want you to tell me who you are.” I felt exposed and I could not think of anything, which eventually led me to question my identity. I certainly did not get the job, but I ended up learning more about myself. I realized that identity is being a part of something, but often times that involves having a unique or distinct personality or feature within the group. Human identity can change, but there are two different kinds of identities for humans: true identity and the false one we show to the world on a daily basis.
Humans are always searching for a deeper meaning or purpose. We seek to understand and to find answers. We change because we are constantly looking for our identity. There is no way to change being human; although we can change: our sex, sexual preferences, thoughts, ideas, features, hair color, religion, job, beliefs, likes and dislikes. These lists are vast. An animal or a plant cares nothing about these changes. They only wish to live and procreate. They are not bored in their lives like humans can become. With nothing to stimulate our sense of self, and nothing left to chase us except for disease, we are at the top of the food chain and we need to (re)create ourselves. Through the process of self-discovery, we become explorers and examine the world around us. This alone caused explorers to sail the world, stopping at each new and unmarked territory. Through these discoveries of land, they learned things about themselves and humans have been evolving continually through this exciting process. Humans now will alter themselves in order to have their wants and needs provided.
I have altered myself as well. I happen to be a brunette, and this is a part of my identity. Although I have chosen to dye my hair blue, blonde, and red, my true identity is to be a brunette. It is how I was made. The false color I ad to my hair in order for me to become something or someone else has made me uncomfortable. Strangers treat me differently as a blonde than they do as a brunette, and I had new experiences. Different characteristics can incite or evoke different treatment from outsiders and they can influence the individual; because of this behavior, I never dyed my hair blonde again. I also happen to be female and non-religious, but if I wanted to, it would be easy to change my religious identity. My sexual orientation or identity would not be so easy to change. A physical identity may be changed through science and modern medicines/procedures but it is not the identity that I was born with; although it does become my new identity. Even if I alter some part of myself, and I had offspring, these hereditary traits that I alter within myself may still show up as characteristics in my offspring.
This is true in personality as well. There are introverts and extroverts. There are kind people and people that are nasty and cruel. There are various types of people in the world. If somebody has always been a certain way, such as shy, we can assume that this is the natural characteristic of that person. However, this same person could become a popular actress and they can put on a show of being outgoing or even confident. This personality can be a part of the individual, but it’s not necessarily the natural or true identity of that person.
Removing pieces of the body is easier to form identity but it’s not the natural identity. Haircuts, fingernail trimmings, limb amputations, and nose or breast reductions are all easier to reduce than to expand. By adding or expanding, a person will often need to continue to keep up with the maintenance of expansion for the procedure to keep. Changing my brunette hair to blonde is easy, but every few weeks to a couple of months, I must add dye to my roots in order for me to keep up this blonde persona. If for instance, I were to have a sex change operation, then I would need to continue to take steroids in order for my body to accept the change for the rest of my life. My true or at least first identity was the one I was born with, and later it is who I become. Experiences may influence a person to change, but people are still born with innate characteristics that ultimately do not change.
This is prominent in homosexuality. A person cannot control who they are attracted to. Most do not make the conscious decision to be gay and discriminated against for their natural and personal sexual attractions. Ultimately though, it is up to each individual to decide on their own actions and desires. Some people have pretended to be straight their whole lives but were untrue to themselves.
The extreme example of communism is a great example of why not being true to yourself doesn’t work. It sounds great in theory with everybody wanting to obtain the same things: health insurance, apartment style, and pay. Everybody is “equal” and everybody is an ant working for their queen called the government. It never worked and ended come the 1990’s because individuals wanted more than oneness. They wanted to form their own identity. My father for instance wanted to be an artist. His parents told him that he would starve and never make any money if her pursued this path. His parents told him that there would be no way he would be able to raise a family or play the masculine role of breadwinner as well if he became an artist. My father accepted his parents’ wishes as his own identity. He stayed the obedient son instead of being true to himself. If he would have chased his passion of art, perhaps there would be more color in the world today; instead, he forfeited and the world will never know what kind of influence he could potentially have had.
Identities can change even though there are natural intrinsic qualities that will always be a part of the individual. Identities can be influenced from outsiders. Human life is always changing but humans can still become what they want to become. It’s important to find a good support system and figure that out. Chasing individuality, dreams and true identity, that is what matters. After all, nobody wants to wake up one morning and realize that they were so much more than just a woman, a mother, and a daughter; they were so much more than just the cage enveloped around their left ring finger.