Personal Identity

19 Feb

I recently went through a bit of an identity crisis.  I had gone in to get a couple inches cut off my hair and have my layers trimmed, and I left with a total mullet.  I was horrified at the chop job that had been done, and the fact that the only way to fix it would be to cut my hair super short.  I cried for four hours, until I fell asleep with tears streaming down my face.  I went in the next day to my usual salon and had them fix my mess.  And although it looked alright, I still was having a hard time accepting the fact that my hair, the thing I loved most, was gone.  It was my identity.  And I wasn’t sure who I was.  But it was because of the wise words and encouragement of some of my amazing friends and followers on twitter that I realized I am more than my hair, and that my beauty comes from more than my hair.

This got me to thinking…

I based so much of my identity as a person on my hair.  Why do we do that?  If I lost my hair or my eyes or quit my job, how who would I be?  Where would I draw my identity from?  Who am I?  Who are you?

What do you draw your identity from?

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One Response to “Personal Identity”

  1. lewisshepherd February 20, 2010 at 3:39 am #

    at my age, i have a lot of built-up identity that would survive any individual haircut (thank goodness). But well into my 30s, I was teetering on the brink of “lost identity” because in serial fashion i spent several years on one or another venture (political campaign, tech startup) which rocketed up but sputtered out. I realized for years that my identity was hostage to those transitory efforts, and I was willing to subsume my other known attributes internally, to the possibility of a big score with something more externally focused.

    Only later have i realized that it is MUCH much better to have one or two simple, TRUE and core attributes about myself that constitute my externally-recognized identity. Times can change, eras can end, projects can fail, and yet I’m still recognized for those particular identity-constituent aspects. (In my case: “new technology,” “blond surfer,” “goofy husband of brilliant wife” — all things which have been associated with me for a long long time…)

    Now I don’t have to worry. I could shave my head – or get fired from my job – and I would still be the same person, with the same basic identity – for good or ill 🙂

    thanks for writing this thoughtful & revealing piece 🙂

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