Deeper than Skin

September 4, 2012
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Identity is an integral part of what makes us who we are and how we live. Without identity we would not associate basic traits such as intelligence, humor, and the ability to be outgoing, with people around us. Identity is more than just the association of basic traits, however. It is also in what values we hold as individuals. Values define us in ways that words couldn’t. They direct how we deal with our problems, how we respond to other attitudes, as well as what we do with what we are given in life. The final part of defining our identity is the formation of our identity by association with significant individuals in ones life. These three sections of what our identity is, is fundamental to our being and individual.

The idea of identity is an old one. People want to be different and get noticed and express their individualism in ways that others wouldn’t. Many people think of identity as a driver’s license or a social security number to distinguish them from everyone else and in a way they are right. But these don’t give us any insight to what the person is like and how they operate. We cannot associate basic traits with a card or a number or even a piece of paper for that matter. Many people see identity as whom you hang out with or who your friends are or where you live. This can be used to get a general profile of the person but not detailed enough to glean their personality and individualism. You need to look further into them and get to know them to get an idea of their humor, their intellect, or even their ability to be outgoing. However this is just a portion of a person’s identity. You must delve deeper to get a better understanding of how unique that individual is.

Looking at a person’s values can attain more of this understanding. Values are standards that people hold themselves to and what they hold dearest to them. Values, or ethics, can give you a sense of what the person stands for and how far they will go to uphold those standards. A portion of an individual’s identity can be derived from values because values shape the way they handle problems such as family issues, cooperative problems, as well as problems caused by the environment they came from. Values also help shape how we respond to other attitudes. If someone had values that chose compromise then people that hold that same value would not get into a long argument over which one is right, but rather try to help each other see it from the other’s point of view. If one holds the values that chose selflessness over selfishness then there would be a person who is very generous. Values are helpful but even put together with basic traits only gives you some of a person’s identity. You need to look even deeper another major component of ones identity.

Many people surround themselves by people who share the same interests and same personality because they fit in. This may seem like conformity rather than identity. This is partially true but most of the time the people that surround an individual reflect on what his/her values are and what some of the basic traits that come together in that person are. The people around someone can also help shape them to form an identity that is their own. The environment that the individual comes from can also help shape the person’s identity by providing the person with the insight to what they have been taught the world is like and therefore develop certain aspects of them to promote the beneficial parts of the environment and adaptations to help them cope with the malicious parts of the environment. The environment aspect consists of people that were in that environment, places in which the environment was stimulated, and objects within that environment that could hold value to the individual. The people within the environment are the most important part of this idea because the people can influence decisions made by the individual and the outcome will always have consequences. This is what makes the people the individual surrounds himself or herself with so important in determining or figuring out someone’s identity.

As you have clearly seen, an identity is more than just a card or a number. It a combination of many factors in ones life, whether it is their values, their basic traits, or the environment and the people in it. Many people think that someone is a bad person for the simple fact that they dress different or have a bad reputation. But the truth is that you cannot take someone’s identity from a card. You have to get to know him or her and judge them on what their true identity is.

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