What is Identity?

In a variety of ways and from various groups of people, (especially guardians and patents) we are told who we are or who we should be, what’s expected of us and how we will be happy. Some of us see it as ridiculous. Others of us play along and follow their rules nicely. A few reluctantly submit and rebel in silence.

Identity can be defined as the fact of being who or what a person or thing is and the characteristics determining this.

Some factors that determine identity are: bloodline, country of family origin, gender, birthplace, citizenship, family name and/or business, education, work, hobbies, subscribed subculture.

I would like to suggest that identity is more than culture, genetics, life experience and choices. The etymology of “identity” is of french origin from circa 1600, meaning “sameness, oneness, state of being the same”.

There is a spiritual aspect to “identity”. Let’s begin this notion with this: Humans desire love and intuitively know they should have the experience of it (in whatever form or expression makes sense to them per relationship). Humans are capable of seeking connection and intimacy. We are able to pursue happiness based on relational endeavors that matter to us.

The foundation of identity is a reality larger than individuality. It expresses unity. It gives us the sense of “I am”, “I can”, “You are”, “You can.”; “We are.”, “We can”. This is the depth of human identity- the experience of existing, being capable, being connected and the ability to not only think these things but to be able to communicate them.

To be human is to experience divinity or sacredness or beauty in a way that also expresses divinity, sacredness or beauty. In this way we have more faculties then our five senses, hands and feet. We can operate from within a place or space that is beyond our simple human physicality. It is spiritual- the world of feeling, sensing and connecting.

Since love and connection are the greatest expression of the human experience it must follow that love and identity are in some way entangled. It has been said that, “Love is a verb”, but I think that is shortsighted. Love exists. Love is not something we do, it is something we exist in and, therefore, act out of. In ways and at specific times we show and even  become Love.

We can express love. We cannot do love. When we say we “make” love or that we love someone, what we are truly saying is we experience a greater energy (which we call “love”) that causes us to act in a loving way and do loving things. Yes, we show love by what we say and do but the saying and doing come out of love. The saying and doing are not love itself. They are portrayals or expressions of love.

Love leads to action. Love acts just like any state of being and feeling. We express how we feel and what our state of being is by what we do. What we do, our behavior, shows who we are at any given moment in time. I contend that Love is the ultimate foundation of who we are – why we exist. If you do not know love you cannot fully know identity. Without connection our experience of self and life is lacking.

As I sat in the cafe, two sisters, Cydney and Cierra (ages 21 and 19) added that love is both a noun and a verb. Love is multifaceted. It is an expression of the highest level and respect. It requires being ok with things you may or may not agree with while also admitting that personal boundaries are important and need to be adhered to. Cydney also shared that love requires putting someone else’s needs above your own.

Thank you so much, Cydney and Cierra!

I ran into my friend Ross also. He shared this

1- inner thoughts 2- outer speech 3 – reflection watched 4- perspective gained

He shared that we see ourselves one way, but if we are able to step outside of our personal experience and see ourselves from the viewpoint of another- hear our words and observe our actions, we may begin to understand who we are in a new way.

Ross, buddy, you are speaking my language! I hope we get to talk more soon.

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