Identity: finding a new name for anxiety.

One important reason why we are capable of maintaining these constant anxieties we have concerning our strengths, weakness and statuses is that most people don’t give thought to the idea that we’re all constantly growing – or that people are capable of substantial growth in the first place.

Most people find themselves with a particular set of skills, cultivate some job from those innate capacities, and merge that new profession with their identity. They don’t reason or internalize the many steps it took to get from point a to point b. They simply think ‘why can’t other people be like I am? It must be they are deficient?’

I feel fear when I think about the possibility of a human literally being inadequate. How could that person have an identity – since our identities are so closely related to our innate capacities. If that was the way the world worked, then that persons only identity could be her lack of skill – her deficiencies and her inadequacy. How could she not feel anything but anxiety? Since none are guaranteed security, this puts all of us in a precarious position.

And then it occurred to me: what if the crux of a person’s identity isn’t their ‘skills’, but a dynamic state of change? What if we are all identified with where we are at the point of identification; not at the point of birth, or at the point of graduation, or employment. What if we change how we identify ourselves, so that we can include those people who weren’t lucky enough to be born with some great skill.

Do we not recognize a different type of greatness in those who fight to acquire a skill they weren’t born with? We already value this state of constant change – and identify the role it plays in our identity. We’re just uncomfortable with disequilibrium – and those who are fortunate enough to escape that, do.

Let’s not. Who we are identifies where we are, not what we are.

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