Your identity is something that gets shaped over the span of your lifetime from childhood up to adolescence and so forth. Many factors contributed to who you became now: primary socialization (parents), environment, friends, study, society, religion…etc. Going through these factors while you traverse your life timeline you interact with them; and it’s your interaction to these factors that shapes your unique identity. The unique identity is the perception you hold about who you think you are; uniquely as a person or collectively within a member of a community or group (our identity is not separate from belongingness).
Given the strength of factors and their enduring nature that shaped you all these years, who you are might be something that exist only in your mind. This has dramatic impacts on the quality of your life and its healthiness. Here are two types of life-led identity: 1) If you are convinced that who you are is really out there and reflected in your life while in reality it’s only existing in your mind; then, you will live an illusion and eventually you will discover the truth of who you were only on your death bed (or if you are lucky enough that life shocks you with the reality on the way so you wake up and revise yourself). 2) If you are aware that who you are is existing only in your mind and is not reflected in your life; then, you will be living depressed and tensed that your life is not aligned with what you identify yourself of being. However, this second one is better than the first because in this case there is always a chance that you actualize your mind existing identity. At any case, awareness is a God given capability a human being can have; that I believe, God did not grant for everybody in this specific sense, awarenss of one’s self and that self’s doings. Now let’s discuss what causes behind these types and what we should do about them.
The first type, a person living convinced that he is the one that he thinks he is; by ‘he thinks’ I mean he spends his life totally convinced that he lived doing and qualified in that doing during his life time. For example, how many times we hear singers talking in TV shows on how talened they are and how valuable their work to the human kind. You hear an actor talking on how his new movie has fixed a whole society and how his movie has discussed a societal case…that without his movie, people would have lived in the dark age! You hear those actors and singers while you can see that they are totally convinced that they are saving their community by discussing red-line cases in their movies. They live convinced of their doings which are representing values to the community. A less dramatic example away of celebrities, is university professors; for example. Some of university professors live convinced that they are educating students and how their doing is a sainted one. They live convinced that they are giving the science and enlightening knowledge to the generation. And many many many of these examples we see in our daily life when visiting a doctor, a lawyer…to hearing street folks talking about football matches as if they are the experts of it. The dangerous pattern is not talking or doing, the dangerous pattern starts to kick in when you see that the person is really convinced that he is really this person or he is really doing this while in fact he is not that person and he is not really doing it. In this regard, Prophet Mohammed says “God have given Mercy to a human who truely knew who he is”. Yes its a mercy granted by your self-awareness that God did not grant for everybody.
The second type is less dangerous, but unfortunately, very painful and unhealthy. This is the person who lives identifying himself as something or someone yet he knows that this is the identity he has for himself in his mind only but he is not actually doing that something or being that someone. For example, a person may live holding the identity that he is a scientist or an expert in something yet he is not doing research or providing knowledge in this thing. It’s like saying “I am a scientist”…but actually you are spending your life going to your ‘non-scientific’ employment during the day and watching TV or hanging out in the evening. You are not spending your daily life reading papers, doing research, investigating knowledge, writing articles, publishing research, communicating with like-minded scientists….etc. In other words, you identify yourself as someone and that’s the identity you hold for yourself in your mind yet your life is not reflecting this identity…but the difference here from the first type is that You Are Aware and Know very well that you are not living the person or the thing you identify yourself with. This is depressive and unhealthy because you will not enjoy your life; you go to the morning work not enjoying and you watch TV at night not enjoying…because deep inside you that’s not the life of the someone or something that you have in your mind.
About the treatment for those two types. In its straightforward sense, the first type treatment is to be shocked by a life event someday that forces him to see his reality in its nakedness. Now, that person will painfully discover that he is not who he thinks he was or was doing. That’s a type of mercy from God by which God confronts the human to a painful experience for him to wake up; it’s a mercy given in a type of a lesson. That’s why in front of painful experiences, it’s important to learn from them and see the lesson delivered by God instead of just whinning about them. There is still a second treatment for the first type that is less painful and is God given as well which is the person suddenly sees the reality. It could be through seeing some event not related to him or he just wake up spontaneously someday. How many of us got aware of something by seeing another person paying for a similar mistake and how many of us just happen to change their way of life because of a day in which you could see the reality in its truth for the first time. Secondly, the treatment for the second type. The treatment is simply human-will and discipline. For those who hold an identity that they are someone or something yet not exercising this in their life. Why what you think you really is not reflected in your life while you know it’s not? It because you don’t have the strong will to do what it takes for the identity you have or because you don’t have the discipline. For example, if you identify yourself as a scientist in Medicine, well that’s good, but you will need a strong will to work out through challenges, a will to pay the effort and stress, and a will to force that identity into your existence. You will need a discipline because you will need to spend lots of time reading research, writing, investigating, reading lots of books, and hard time thinking. The discipline is needed to tailor your life to this person’s type of living and give away some pleasures, which if you looked carefully, will find that you are not truely enjoying them because your identity is not in your life (if you are the second type). To conclude, for the first type of identity holders, you will need to look around you carefully and learn lessons delivered to you and to those around you; you will need to increase your awareness so that you detect illusions about who you think you are. For the second type of identity holders, what are you waiting for; work your will and discipline yourself in getting what you know you are into your life. Don’t leave who you are to be just in your mind…live it in every hour of your life.
All of the above are details; however, I would like to close this post with a quick and straightforward words that can be used and memorized for the above details that you can always remember as you go in the journey of your life: Who you are is what you spend your days doing. If you think you are an honest person, watch your daily life and ask yourself: Do I acted this day as an honest person? If you think you are a writer, watch your daily life and ask yourself: Did I spend some time writing or studying for writing or learning for writing? If you think you are a scientist in a field, watch your daily life and ask yourself: Did I read books in my area of scientific interest or did I read research papers in my field or did I spend time with scientific problems I wish to solve?
To be what you think you are or to be what you want to be, make sure that you do the things of that person or that something every day. You will be what you identify yourself to be and you will be what you want to be…