Who are you? What do you represent? What do you stand for?
When faced with the above questions, one might simply respond by stating their name and what they do for a living; a quick, safe, surface level snapshot of who they perceive they are.
Our professions, in many ways, become central to our identity and our personal narrative. Our careers shape how we see ourselves, as daily work-life habits and actions are salient, observable, and productive; an easy way to define and label who we are and what we stand for. Yet, very limited.
Defining yourself by just your name are career robs you of your uniqueness, capabilities, differences, and passions. And, it robs others of the opportunity to truly connect, learn from, and value the actual, genuine you.
It is important to be aware of every aspect of ourselves that make us who we are, even those not readily salient.
Truth is, we each hold multiple statuses and identities, formed and perpetuated by the social, structural, and personal dimensions in which we live and function, through a process called, intersectionality.
We are not one identity, but rather multiple, that intersect, adapt and mesh to make us who we are. Race, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, nationality, spirituality, cultural practices, and family make-up are all identities that must be recognized, brought forth, and shared in the narratives we write and share about ourselves.
We must begin to value our complexities instead of safely molding to the norm.
So again, the question becomes: Who are you? What do you represent? What do you stand for?
Divulging your true identity, the good, the bad, the ugly, is uncomfortable. We all wear masks to control how others perceive us, and simplify life by migrating to the norm. Most of us may not even know where to start in uncovering our true identities. Yet, the most uncomfortable actions are most worth doing.
Find your intersections
To start, one may create a list of all their identities and statutes: race, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, nationality, spirituality, cultural practices, family make-up, etc.
How are these identities expressed? Which resonate most strongly? Which stand out as comfortable and genuine? Which do you rarely attune to?
Thinking through your multiple identities, the ways they intersect, and the places and environments you work and interact within, is challenging, emotional, and draining. It’s something we rarely do, yet so desperately need to act on.
Finding our intersections can help us to learn more about our needs, our desires, our fears, and our aspirations. It can help us to break mundane routines that have absorbed both attention and action, blindly, for too long.
Truly knowing who you are, all that you are, is part of building your mental and physical resilience. Are you ready?
Create your identity. Be true to each part of who you are.
Be bold, be courageous, be confident.