Out of all the definitions of identity, I am most inclined to the mathematical one. The science encyclopedia defines identity as “a transformation that leaves an object unchanged“. 1 Most definitions allude to the second part of the definition; unchanged. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual”. 2 While this is indeed a fact, it almost implies that an individual is cast in stone. However, I’d like to argue that transformation and peculiarity can act in tandem.
Growing up, memorization was never my stronghold- hence, my preference for math and physiology over the biological sciences. However, there’s a psychological concept that I have retained over the years, probably because I seek to apply it partly to my life; Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs.
I am open to sharing my thoughts on how the order of needs, perceived needs and actual basic needs lower down in the pyramid seem to have evolved over time. Another subject for discussion would be the lack of identification of spirituality as a basic need- one that recent studies have elucidated on. Both psychology and religion stress on experiential components that are not available to one’s consciousness. 3 Without the existence of the most basic need, the desire for survival fades and if the most basic needs were merely food, water and so on, as included in physiological needs, suicide among those in a world of relative abundance would not be as rampant as it is in recent times. 4 What I’d like to dwell on is the concept of self-actualization which basically means ‘achieving one’s full potential’. While this goal helps one to focus on improving on himself/herself, to believe that one has fully achieved his potential would be the death of purpose.
So why is it important to know one’s identity? Identity and purpose are linked and I’d like to think that purpose helps in the transformational aspect that leads to the definition of one’s identity. For instance, if you are thrift shopper, chances are whenever you need a new gadget, you consider specific things like its durability, multi-functional purpose, aesthetic features, etc. With those specifics, you know exactly what you want once you see it. Similarly, to be the best marathon runner (purpose), you would want to know the specifics that go into what it means to maximize your potential. Undergoing that transformation is what gives you a title (identity); ‘I quality title with ‘a‘ because winning is as objective as it is subjective and learning to be content with oneself at each stage of life is a whole subject for discussion.
So like the chicken and egg situation, which one comes first? do you need purpose to know your identity? or should your identity withstand each stage of your purpose? While you cannot fully discover yourself in a day, what will forever remain a component of your identity is your source. Where am I from? While your ancestry adds no dime to your current living situation, there’s just something about tracing your bloodline and the belief that your source influences who you are and where you are going. It is one thing to have an identity, and it is another to know your identity. The latter is empowering.
“winning is as objective as it is subjective and learning to be content with oneself at each stage of life is a whole subject for discussion”Tweet