Identity is a complicated subject. We can often get lost in the existential crisis of not knowing who we are and what we mean to the world around us.
But suppose for a moment that the answers are simpler and rely on, helpfully general and open tools of identification.
The ungraspable piece of the puzzle is the abstract illusion that our identity is something more supernatural than natural and frankly quite simple.
I propose that it is as simple as four aspects that create uniqueness out of every soul in existence. And it all comes down to this:
- Individual Preferences
- Physical attributes
- Personality traits
- Behavioral patterns
Or you may say:
- One’s taste
- One’s physique
- One’s psyche
- One’s actions
“Know thyself.” -Shakespeare.
Things like how you like your coffee, to how you prefer to pay for your groceries, are what I mean by preferences. From the superficial preference of hair color on Halloween (or each day) to the profound group decision to select the next player for your sports team, especially your specific input as to why you think they fit or don’t but you are also included in the decision making process – identifiably.
This literally refers to what you look like and what you do with it. If you are a model, identity isn’t as simple as what you look like, more important is what is done with it. Conversely, if you’re having an existential crisis as a model, simply remove the makeup for a moment and reconnect with your natural physique. The outfit can stay if it expresses your preference for your own physique. How you desire to dress yourself is intensely more important than how others dress you.
You’ll notice that I am focusing on nature more than nurture. Up until now, the subject has demanded it. Up until the next aspect of identity- your psyche.
By “psyche” I refer to one’s temperament. One’s constant mood. If you are prone to attention deficits, fits of anger, living in denial, bouts of depression, if your confidence outweighs your humility more often than not, even if you keep your aggression in check with catholic prayer and it works… etc.
But that’s who you are. Whether your therapists is correct or not when he tells you this, believe it is true that all of these moods, especially your dominant mood, is a defense mechanism allowing you to cope with your environment. Fits of anger and denial are more of the unhealthy defenses of the ego. This brings up a touchy subject: psychopathology.
The obsessives, the psychotic, the codependent, these are literally paths of the psyche that are beyond my own grasp conceptually, yet are most certainly part of one’s temperament. An obsessed individual can be identified, known, infamous even.
Tread carefully. Your psyche is your soul…
Actions are the most YOU you can get. The dominant patterns in your actions define you as you. You may be the guy that wears his favorite jacket rain or shine (I’d call you “Favorite Jacket Guy”). You could be the girl in the red leather jacket.
It gets deeper. You could be the spider trainer, the zoologist, the town mechanic, the fiction author, the beat reporter, the runway walker, the real estate auctioneer.
It gets better. Your career could make up the bulk of your behavior. Your marriage, your car, your research, your hiking through the woods at leisure… and on and on.
It gets real. Your behavioral patterns make you who you are more than anything you prefer, anything you look like, more than your moods. What those things say about you and how they identify you can all be kept under wraps or can shine like spotlights on a stage depending on whether the majority of your behavior is in line with them or not.
The times it all lines up are what we aim for. These are moments of integrity. Dark or light.
What will determine the brightness of your light is a commonly denied action: personal decision.
But you must make a personal decision here, because the decision to prefer black over mocha, nature over nurture, one outfit over the other, to soothe your soul or let the anger out, to behave or not to behave, is yours.