Thoughts About Identity

A couple of days ago, a community long-timer (Let’s call him “Total-E”) gave an informal talk about Identity. Identity is one of my specialties.

I thought Total-E had some great information about bringing your identity to the next level by doing fun (and adventurous) things, and I’ve seen him grow in the community over several years (and am impressed). He said his identity is “martial-artist” and also told us stories about travel, bungee jumping, hanging from body hooks, etc. He recommended travel above all.

I realized immediately that Total-E had his identity wrong – too specific. He said his identity had been different until he got sick and couldn’t do whatever it was anymore. I asked if he broke a leg and couldn’t do martial arts…if his identity would change. He said no, that he would just tecah martial arts for 6 months. (Which WOULD be a different identity. 🙂) So, I said…ok, if you coudln’t do it at all, would your identity change? He said yes.

I say no, martial artist isn’t Total-E’s identity, it’s a sub-identity. His identity is what makes him passionate about the martial arts…and travel, and bungee jumping, and other adventurous pursuits. His identity (or a large part of it) is ADVENTURER, and that won’t change if he drops the martial arts. Otherwise…he could tell a story about martial arts to a woman and she could hate the sport…and that would be a rejection of his identity (which is really bad). BUT, his identity is larger, and Ju Jitsu or Muay Thai or Karate is just a component of it. She doesn’t HAVE to be interested in the component to like or be attracted to him.

Think about what drives you. What is at your core? How would you decribe yourself…with a list of 20 words? What are your sub-identities or what are the different ways you express your identity?

After the talk, a participant (let’s call him “Feta”) asked me what I do to kick my identity up to the next level. Basically, that isn’t the model I’m using. I’m not an adventurer. My (2 component) identity is always there…and doesn’t need to be kicked up (like an adventurer’s.) Feta has a lot of identuty tied up in improving himself (only 1/2 was w/girls)…and that guy will always have to be looking for ways to improve himself and moving forward. Different identities…develop…in different ways. Mine is one that I use whenever I’m talking to people, although I use it other times as well.

What is mine? A story for another day I guess….. 😉