The aim of this essay involves drawing on theory to help process of self-discovery. From the outset I believe myself to have a set definition of what my identity is. The term ‘Identity’ has become part of our everyday language. This lazy use of the term has shadowed the need for a greater depth of analysis of what lies behind this concept. This essay aims to unravel the meaning behind the concept, drawing on the substantial body of literature that exists on this area, but is often shadowed by people who believe they understand the term.
The structure of this essay is thus; first I will begin by describing my personal identity, which will be drawn on throughout the essay where appropriate. This essay purports to take the reader on a journey of my life. Indeed it involves a process of self-discovery, drawing on relevant theory to help me find my way. I hope to guide the reader through this journey in order to reach the final destination, an appreciation of how the statement relates to my life. MY IDENTITY My name is Nadia Shahbazi. I am a female British born Asian Muslim. I am currently a UMIST undergraduate management student at UMIST.
I am a daughter, sister, and friend. Last year I worked as an operations industrial analyst in an Investment Bank. I am hardworking, affectionate and cheerful. The statement above highlights the different characteristics of (my) identity. Firstly ones identity can change overtime. I used to work for an investment bank, now I don’t. As I will try to explain, even though I no longer physically work there, the experience of having once done so has shaped my identity. Parts of my identity have been predetermined from my birth, such as my gender and even my religion. Other aspects of identity have been chosen by myself.
For instance, my decision to study a degree at a particular university. However, this was not a completely autonomous decision as I was influenced by social expectations. Furthermore, the degree of free will that can be exerted is limited and constrained within the identity that we already possess at the time of making the choice! My identity is what I feel makes me an individual, encompassing various different facets that combine to differentiate me from any other person. I believe my identity comprises of several layers, each representing a different depth of my self. At the core lies my true sense of self.
Though I am unconscious of this it exerts a strong influence over the way I live my life. Thus this part can be seen to act as a control mechanism, like a prison. I reveal the central layers to only my closest associates, family etc. Many people that I come into contact with never see past the outer layer, the superficial image that I portray on a daily basis e. g. the clothes that I wear and the gestures I transmit. Though there may be no social interaction I still project an image that shapes other peoples perception of my identity. For instance if I am dressed smartly they may perceive me as clever and articulate.
FETISH OF IDENTITY As social animals, there exists an overwhelming temptation to behave ‘a certain way’. Whether or not this should this be viewed as a prison is open to discussion. Can be seen as a mechanism for maintaining social order. These implicit rules may be seen as less of a prison but more of a framework that acts as a way of maintaining a sense of regularity and order necessary for us to function in the world. However, we may become caught in a cycle of constructing and reconstructing our identity to fit in with perceived norms of the society around us. In this way our role preoccupation can become an identity project.
We can become a slave/ a prisoner to the desire and build an identity that allows us to be seen by others how we want to be seen. When we ‘build’ an identity for ourselves however, we are expected to be consistent in the way we behave accordingly in that role. Thus our own identity may become a prison, and experience difficulty trying to break free due to the social structure in which we have built the walls of our confinement, our identity role is embedded. The paradox is that ‘man is a social creator aswell as a social creature by the social exercise of linguistic power man creates his own identity and reinforces that of others.