Identity: II

The identity problem applies to our age of authenticity. If our identities are malleable and fluctuating, how are we to authentically express ourselves? Am I smart or athletic? It depends on the context, or whom I am with. Our identities are found in conflict with others.

So our problem of authenticity — society valuing that which it most lacks — is not an internet problem but a society problem: it is baked into the transitory nature of our society. We do not simply face the difficulty of accurately curating our lives online; we don’t know who we really are online or offline.

Is there an essence to our identity? A sense that it does not change? How does identity form?

We enter the world crying, gasping for air. A first wound. We come with inherited genes and temperaments, which will make up our likes and dislikes (most likely), and we forge who we are through cooperation and conflict. Tastes, hopes, playacting whether it’s better to be nice or rude when we want something, trying new hobbies. But are tastes and hobbies an identity? Or liking soccer more than tennis?

For the writer — just as for the priest or psychologist — our identity is born from a wound. It begins in the first moments. And we learn how to mask and make-up for the wound, and turn to success or excitement or peace for our healing and fullness. This is our identity: the wound and our solution. Everything else is icing.

 

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