"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's most authentic of them all?" A Reflection on Identity Part 1
Who Do You Think You Are?
In a moment of incredulous disbelief, has anybody ever hurled these words at you followed by a string of accusations meant to convince you of your identity as he or she sees it? You've probably had people tell you who are, who you are not, what you will become and what you will never become. School may have told you to be like everybody else, and church may have told you NOT to be like everybody else. Sports enthusiasts may tell their child that he is a basketball, football, or hockey player. A drama mama may tell her daughter that she is a princess or a dancing queen. No wonder most adolescents go though an identity issue!
Trying on Identity—Does it Fit?
By the time teens reach their twenties, they certainly know who they are by then, right? Not likely. This tends to be more of a "try on an identity and see if you like it" stage. Besides a wide assortment of wardrobe testing, young adults tend to try on different majors, various types of extracurricular activities, and a diverse selection of relationships. I guess getting married and having kids doesn't quite solve the identity issues because then there is the mid-life crisis during which time more experimenting is conducted. Empty-nesters report that they don't know who they are anymore once the kids have left home and the role of "parent" is no longer their primary function. What about those who never married or had children? Perhaps some are focused on who they always wanted to be but never got the chance to be. And what about those advanced in age—have they figured out the mysterious identity enigma? Some have lost their memory and can't remember—others have forgotten by choice in an endeavor to escape the pain of regret. Some remember who they were but get so stuck in the past, they never took time to understand who they'd become.
An Invitation to What Could Be
I'm sure there are those out there who have this identity thing figured out—and if that's you—you know exactly who you are. Cheesy jokes aside, forgive me for the over-generalizations and exaggeration, but hyperbole makes for stating a point and I believe the underlying assumption is true that many people really do struggle with the quest of "finding themselves." There are so many voices with opinions and agendas and "shoulds." Having said that, I'm another voice about to tell you what I believe about identity. But I want you to read this series of articles as an invitation of what could be, not as a prescription of what should be.
Take a Quiz!
If you accept this invitation to my reflection on what you see in your mirror, check out the rest of the articles in this series (I'll be posting them over the next few days). To get you started, take this quiz entitled, "Signs You Are Living From a False Self." If you score high on this quiz, then my articles are especially for you!
Quiz: "Signs You Are Living From a False Self."
Directions. Print this out if it is easier for you or get a piece of paper and number the lines 1-15. Read each statement. Rate yourself using the number scale below. Answer honestly!
3—This is totally me!
2—This is somewhat me.
1—I fall into this at times.
1. _____ I want to say "no" but I say "yes" instead.
2. _____ It bothers me greatly when others are upset with me.
3. _____ I need others' approval in order to feel good about myself.
4. _____ Even though it seems like I like you, I really don't.
5. _____ I'll do what it takes to "keep the peace" including remaining silent.
6. _____ There is no room for mistakes—I'm a failure when I fail.
7. _____ It energizes me to criticize others.
8. _____ I always have an answer for everything to avoid looking foolish.
9. _____ Unless I am doing something extraordinary, I do not feel "alive."
10. ____ I don't feel important unless I'm needed.
11. ____ Fear often blocks me from taking risks.
12. ____ I try to avoid others getting mad at me and will usually do what they want.
13. ____ I try to cover up my feelings of inadequacy by using knowledge and acting competent.
14. _____ I want my children to behave so that others will believe that I am a good parent.
15. _____ I often compare myself to others.
0-7 You know your true
8-23 Some parts of your true self have been hijacked by the false self
24-37 Your are more in touch with your false self than your true self
37-45 Your false self has kidnapped your true self
The information for this quiz was inspired by the ideas and content from Pete Scazzero's book entitled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.