When Life Is One Long Crisis Of Identity

Who am I? Of course, I know. I can tell you who I am with a lot of different language. I can use the language of roles. I can use the language of personality. I can use the language of science. I can use the language of poetry.

But who am I?

I can talk about my education status, my social status, my income status, my marital status, and the state of my health.

I can talk politics, religion, diet, fashion, taste, personal quirks.

But who am I? For real?

My identity is tied to all the languages I use to describe myself. I am a human. A complex being. I am layer upon layer of nature and experience. Like a tree, I am ring after ring of age, growth, and struggle. I am resilient, because I am still here. That’s all it takes. A continual showing-up to my own life.

Who I am is in flux. That’s what it means to grow. Change is certain. I am in an intersection of my own life, where rapid change and slow-and-steady meet, and that brings choices.

I change my mind about something every day. It’s called adaptability.

I hold steady to a conviction every day. It’s called principle. (Sometimes it's called being stubborn. And that’s not always a bad thing.)

I open my mind to new considerations. It’s called humility. Please note that this may not be a daily occurrence. See “human” as referenced above.

I think it’s safe to say that I will be sorting out these layers for a lifetime. I think it’s alright to admit that my life is one long crisis of identity. Maybe crisis is not the word I’m looking for, though. Maybe it’s more of a pursuit. A combination of freedom to choose who I wish to be and conviction to work toward an ideal of integrity. The fact that it’s hard can make it feel like a crisis, and the emotions attached to the hard work are certainly no small thing.

To say my identity is in God and then to stop there is a disservice to myself. It’s too vague and abstract to inform my actual purpose. I know Whose dream I have aligned my own dreams with, but that does not mean I know who I am entirely. And it does not mean my dream is dictated to me from a book or a manual, even if those inform my values. I am in charge of determining the particulars. But rather than look at it as stress-inducing or too big of a job, I can tackle it one layer at a time.

I have been doing that, in part, over the course of this blog. I pursued stability. I talked about going after what I am most hungry for. And I’ve thrown myself into the storm of asking myself direct, powerful, and unsettling questions. Because I need to put my energy into the things that matter most to me. I need to give into places that give back, not by product measurements, but by willing and open efforts toward communication, connection, energy, happiness, and respect, because those are the things I value. And what I value informs my dream and my identity.

I have more thoughts, and I will begin to share them next week.

Jamie Bagley