We’re knee deep in identity politics in America, and it is causing us to take ourselves way too seriously. I feel for the kids these days that are growing up more confused than they need to because adults haphazardly project insecurities on their children. We rob them of their self esteem to feed our own egos. It doesn’t need to be this way, and to stop it we have to stop looking for things that an identity cannot give us.
- It can’t make you a good person
I get it, it’s hard making choices and being confident in yourself. Don’t fall victim into believing that you’re right simply because you belong to some group. For instance, being a Catholic doesn’t automatically mean you’re morally superior to an atheist (especially with their newest scandal). So why should any identity? I don’t care if that identity is a certain sex, race, creed, or religion. There is no short cuts to being a good person.
If you’re not careful your identity will trap you into certain precepts that you can’t break out of without harming your opinion of yourself. That same “moral high ground” will come with an a compulsion to live life by a specific set of rules, even ones that don’t apply. The very same morality that came with the identity will be used to hang you.
An identity won’t make you a good person, but it will give you insight into life that you may not have had but for that identity. It will help others make decisions made on a bigger slice of the puzzle instead of just a piece. When you understand your self, you will more clearly see the world. This will lead to the wisdom to make better choices.
- Give you pride
If there is one thing I understand it is pride in an identity. I’m a mixed woman so I’m intimately aware of this. Funny enough it was always the white side of my father that I was ashamed of. I cannot tell you the amount of fights I was in trying to prove to myself that I was enough. It wasn’t until I realized being all black wouldn’t make me a different person that I discovered true pride. Pride in myself for myself. I realized that I don’t have pride because of my identities, I gave my identities pride.
It’s important to know that you won’t have pride in that identity if you don’t have pride in yourself. Otherwise, you’ll find that fear that you’re not enough. Once you fall in love with yourself you’ll refuse to deny any part of yourself.
- Make you happy
If only you found more people with this shared identity, then you’d be happy right? Except no one you meet is ever enough. There is always an identity within an identity to chase and you fail to realize that you’re trapped. You spend so much time wrapped up in thinking about how to categorize yourself that you lose touch with who you are to begin with. When we come up with a new group to join there is an immediate influx of relief and happiness, but what happens next? Eventually something pricks your definition of yourself and you’re left with the same emptiness you started with but more confused.
What people are missing is becoming in touch with themselves. When this happens no one can touch your sense of self because you’ll be firmly planted in who you are. That is the way to true happiness.
- Pick your friends for you
There was a very nice episode of South Park where Cartmen spends all his time finding love connections between token minorities. The episode is very insightful and highlights how looking for love based on identity can be ridiculous.
Knowing yourself can help you find what you want in your friends. Do your friends have to be black if your black? Does your spouse? It can help if you’re looking for someone who may not share prejudices that the larger society may have on you based on your skin color. The funny thing about prejudices is that they don’t have to be a big deal. We just make our prejudices everything. If everyone just acknowledged that they had them and openly discussed it, we would find that those prejudices would dissolve into a friendly curiosity for those with a different worldview than you.
What people are looking for are people with similar values, similar humor, and similar hobbies. While different identities can seem like a good way to find someone, really it blinds us to others who have everything we’re looking for, but they’re just packaged differently.
- Tell you your future
There is nothing in any identity you have that will tell you what you’re supposed to do in life. It may feel that being a part of a minority means you have to devote your life to helping the oppressed with no money for yourself. You don’t have to make beats, you don’t have to get a useless degree in the social sciences, and you don’t owe anything to anybody that should cause you to base you’re future based on what someone wants from you.
Don’t get it twisted, always remember where you come from. That doesn’t mean it controls where you’re going. The only person who decides your life is you, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
We bring meaning to whatever identity we have, not the other way around. Belonging to any one group or subset will not bring us something that we don’t already have. It is only through recognizing this that we don’t let our identities control us and we gain true self esteem. And if you really think about it, the one putting so much pressure on you to conform is you.