Growing up, I had a knack for pleasing people, for being what they wanted of me; the affirmation felt great. Later, in young adulthood, I morphed into putting on others’ “characterisms” over my personality, like a blazer that made me look corporate, or a strength or goal that showed I was in the club and on the right track.
For a long time, I continued conforming my obscured identity to the ways of the world while looking for and wondering who I actually was, without all the put-ons. And, when I finally found out, it took quite a while to reconcile the old, eclectic self I had built with my true self.
We do that don’t we? We try on parts of someone else’s perceived identity attempting to piece together our own. That is, until we find that their article of identity didn’t fit us well at all, and, in fact, made us feel uncomfortable in our own being.
It’s all part of the experience, they say.
Maybe some would say that’s part of the experience of finding out who you are. Some great thinkers, like Thomas Aquinas and Erik Erikson, might agree with that to a degree, yet, do my experiences and related choices inherently become who I am?
The definition of identity is “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is” (Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2023). When we are confused about or do not know who or what we are, we can experience, then, an “identity crisis”, which is, “a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure.” (Ibid.) I would say, then, that to be secure in my identity, I would have certitude as to the truth of who I am, what I am, and why I am.
So, how can I have certitude if my identity is as fluid as the passing ideas, experiences, and choices of my life? And, if I can have certainty in who I am, then why does my identity become insecure to begin with? Why did I spend so long in this state of insecurity, confusion and searching? Why was I not secure in the way my experiences and choices formed my identity?
What is the truth?
It must be said, then, if it is indeed a fact that I can be who I am, there must be the truth of who I am.
As I continued in adulthood, and as confused identity covered the world as a culture-wide pandemic, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that there are three capital reasons why the identity of my self, my soul, was lost on me.
- Not knowing why and who and what I was made for, which led to…
- Not accepting why or who or what I was made for, due to a…
- Lack of proper formation in the Truth.
You see, since my education was left solely to the bewildering state of loud, competing, and fleeting ideas which the world offers, it meant that my formation, and, therefore, beliefs were as unstable as its cultural trends. It left me, as so many are, completely wanting, longing for, as to the truth of who I was, where I fit in at, and, therefore, a gaping soul hole beckoned for the nearest shiny accessory within my reach to identify with. And, this is how I knew that I was believing a lie about my identity – soul holes.
By grace, I now see that the many ideas that I entertain as thoughts and let inform my reason, can, then, with an act of my will, become beliefs and be incorporated into my truth. This is my formation, for better or for worse. Also, that identity is a matter of knowing the truth of who I am and choosing to believe it. And, finally, that no ill-fitting and malformed idea-turned-belief will ever suffice for the objective Truth, even if I choose to elevate a lie as a belief for a while. It will eventually rub a blister on my soul.
So, who am I?
After years of being stripped, I can conclude that my identity may be adorned and formed by experiences, choices, temperaments, and all that I pick up and lay down along my way in this life, but, at the core, the rock-solid, unchanging truth of my identity is that I was unrepeatedly created in and through Love, that my unique gifts and talents were bestowed upon me to know, to reveal, and to be this unifying Love, that I am to live unto eternal perfection with Love, and, one day, I can hope to rejoin Love in divine Beatitude.
Period. It is finished.
No soul holes.
And, while all the other facets that make up who I am accumulate by way of life and may hang upon this true identity, they are only there by my choice to complement the unchangeable Truth of who I am. And, I finally have peace within me.