What is Your Identity?

Our own personal identity varies widely, even among people with whom we think we have a lot in common with. I was reminded yesterday of an exercise a college professor of mine did in a class on Globalization and Nationalism. He listed several roles on the board in the front of the class and asked us to write down each role or identity in order of importance to us. Some of the identities were as follows:

  • Husband
  • Son
  • American (or any number of nationalities)
  • Spanish (or any number of ethnicities)
  • Mormon (or any other religion)
  • Father
  • Attorney (or other career or societal role)

There could be more identities listed, but you get the point. For me personally, my identity may be broken down by saying that above all at this point in my life, I value my role as a husband above all else (my role as a father will be close behind my husbandly duties when that day comes). In choosing what makes up who I am next, I would be inclined to include my faith, followed closely by my nationality – an American. I was born and raised in this county and it has shaped who I am. My ethnicity is unfortunately not a large part of who I am, although in the past many years I have taken strides to better understand and appreciate that part of me. Much lower on the list are the roles that may not matter in life as much. Yes, I am an attorney, but so what? There are too many of us as it is anyway. I am happy with my career choice, but do not define myself by what I do at work, let alone any other of my hobbies or interests. Yet, I understand that this list may vary for each person (i.e. there is probably someone out there that believes deep down he is a birdwatcher before anything else). Think about it. If you listed all of the roles you play in life, which is the most important to you? Which should be the most important? It’s quite an eye opening exercise.

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