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Defining a word like identity comes from defining yourself as a person. I define myself as many things. Smart, athletic, friendly, trustworthy, etcetera. But those words put together don’t add up to equal my identity. See, my identity is who I am as a person and the way I am perceived by myself and others. Personally, I have not yet defined my myself nor my identity in a way that is clear. In others eyes, my identity is whoever they see me as. And though I may waste time worrying about how others view me and the way I look to them, the only way I can change their views is by changing myself. This is why believing and being yourself is the key to having an identity you are proud of. If you choose to live a certain way, your identity and personality will be reflected by your lifestyle giving you an identity that you may or may not like. It doesn’t happen vice versa. Your identity does not define you despite what many have said.

I’ve heard many say that you can’t change your identity; that you are stuck with a reputation forever. Though changing the way people see you and the way you see yourself can be difficult and time consuming, it is possible. Great people have made mistakes and were able to learn and change themselves enough so that we now learn from them. “If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you've made, if they don't realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.” Steve Maraboli (Life, the Truth, and Being Free). Mistakes are what help to build character. Making mistakes is how we as humans learn. Riding a bike wasn’t easy the first time you tried it. You fall off, tip over, can’t get the balance to move forward. But after making these mistakes you’re able to continue to perfect riding that bike. The same applies to life. You make a couple mistakes here and there and are able to work to perfect it. The only problem with trying too hard to reach perfection is, you’ll never reach it. I suffer from this problem. I try excessively hard to reach perfection in everything I do; school, sports, friendships, family, and life. But I’ve quickly come to the conclusion that this way of living is useless. Trying to come up with the perfect life and identity is impossible. It doesn’t exist. For this reason, I now know my identity cannot be completely clear. I have already begun on the journey of life and cannot take back any mistakes I’ve made or things that I have said. Because of this, my identity must be one that is able to reflect the imperfections and flaws that I possess as well as the positives.

Throughout my life, my family members like my parents, have told me that “I have a great head on my shoulders” and “my personality reflects my genuine self.” That “I am one of few that know the direction of my life and where I am going.” But while it is great that they are able to see this in me, I personally would like to know if I am going in the right direction and what having a great head on your shoulders means. To them my identity is something that is close to perfect. But I cannot see what they see. I am sometimes lost in how I see myself. I know that I am confident enough to stand up for my beliefs and morals but I’ve never truly had to put this confidence to the test. Yes, I stand up for little things like people being picked on and things like that but I have never been put in a situation when my “identity” was at risk. I guess this is good thing. It means that my word and what I believe in means something to others. That my integrity and what I believe in isn’t something people take lightly. I take that as a compliment but maybe I would be able to say what my identity was if I was forced to find it.

Great people have made it their passion to instill in our brains that losing sight of you, is okay if you find your way back. Oscar Wilde says this about identity, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” But if we are all too busy living others’ lives, why do we know our identity? Chuck Palahniuk’s thoughts, “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known.” If I was able to say that I am completely authentic, I would be lying. The things I wear are inspired by other people and what they have worn. My thoughts are influenced by what others’ have taught me. But see, this is what is authentic about the human race. Nothing of anybody’s is truly 100% theirs. If everyone was able to come up with their own thoughts and ideas, there would be no need for plagiarism and stealing. But as humans, all our thoughts are influenced by other people and our interactions with one another. This is why in history there are few examples of true, sole thoughts. The written languages formed were not one person’s idea, they were many civilizations ideas put together to meet the needs of many. Like our identities. If our identities were truly for ourselves, we wouldn’t worry how others perceived them. But since we as a human race do care what others think of us, our identities are able to reflect our views in a way that accompany others’ views as well and blend them to form each and everyone’s individual authentic identity. George R.R. Martin says this, “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” Many other individuals have said many other great things about identity and its’ meaning, but identity only matters when you are the one who defines it. I have not yet found my definition of identity, but I do know that I hope the meaning I find, defines me in the process.



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