It all starts the moment you walk into a room. The facial and body scan, the behavioral check, followed by the detection of peripheral accoutrements (clothes, jewellery, latest tech gadget, car etc…). In the deeper phase, ascertainment of the provenance of said accoutrements may or may not follow.
Et voila! The stranger, acquaintance, colleague or friend of a friend has you and your identity neatly packaged and ready to be delivered. You have been identified; defined.
Remember that their assessment is based on their stereotypes, personal opinions, and, you guessed it, their own identity, so I really don’t understand why people keep on trying to pigeonhole each other believing this method could possibly reveal the truth.
A recent article I read suggested that we had better dig in and figure out our own identity as there is a real risk that everyone else is creating one for us. So whether yours is fastidiously built or naturally presented you had better be loud and clear about it or you will be totally misunderstood and/or misrepresented.
I mean what is really happening out there under all the searing gazes? What if I see myself as eloquent and others see me as pedantic, me entertaining and others boring, me skilled and others mediocre at best? And who would be right?
Adam Bryant asks,”But how can someone describe the identity of another in ways which encompass both their idiosyncratic qualities and their group memberships or identifications both of which can shift according to circumstance”
And that really is the whole point, isn’t it? If we look at and accept identity not as fixed, but rather as constantly mutating, it might change our way of looking at and cataloguing each other; a pastime that can be falsely positive or downright destructive.
Think about it…the cool and carefree party girl of the eighties who morphed into the exacting businesswoman to be feared of the nineties and then again into the judicious dependable wife and mother of 3 in the aughts. She is who she is, but also parts of who she was and parts of who she will become. She changes mentally, spiritually, physically…in a continuous flux and change.
Depending when you met this female, during the different phases of her life, you would take away a different impression of her. And yet her past present and eventual future are all part and parcel of what you see at the moment you are looking at her. That’s a lot to glean from a glance or a brief encounter don’t you think? Add to this not just how others see you but how you want others to see you and how you see yourself (self-identity versus collective-identity). Provenance, projection, introspection, development, absorption, environment, experiences and a whole list of other factors are part of the manufacture of who we are.
Bottom line… let’s take control of our identities because it will solidify our knowledge of who we are and what we stand for and what legacy we leave behind.
And through the strength of our honest convictions we may be able to prevent or at least protect ourselves from the identity creators, lurking in our midst, disseminating erroneous information, to the world, about who we are.