We all have an identity, some of us more than one. I, for instance, have a work identity, a home/ friends identity, and a writing identity. There’s some spillover between them, like a three part Venn diagram, but I think and act differently depending on the situation.
I don’t think this is a bad thing; I think in many ways, it’s a survival trait. We all need to do whatever is best to “survive” a situation. Very rarely is our actual life on the line, but often our self-image and self-esteem may be. In this time of hyper-connectedness, in which almost everyone has a camera phone and a social media account, we’re no longer allowed to make mistakes. Mistakes can come back to haunt you later, in a relationship or a job interview.
In my work, I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t sure of their own identities. They seem lost and don’t feel connected to those around them. They aren’t sure of what’s important and meaningful to them. They don’t know what they want or where they’re going. In this age of if-I-want-it-I-can-have-it-now, many people don’t know how to make a plan or to follow through.
As I searched for a topic today, I stumbled upon an article by Ashley Judd. Apparently, there was a media frenzy speculating that she’d gotten plastic surgery and criticizing her for getting fat because her face was puffy. In the article, she talks about how dehumanizing it is for everyone (not just her) to speculate and criticize her appearance. It’s a really well written article, and it came at a time when I was looking for a topic. After reading it, I had to sit back and think.
She could have allowed the speculation to define her in some way. Instead, she talks about the reasons that she answered media criticism, and how she refuses to be defined by others.