Crafting your identity

You’ve probably heard people speaking about identity, but what exactly is it and how does our identity define who we are? Our identity is the way we define ourselves and consists of pre-determined identity areas like your family role or societal role, but it also consists of areas you can control like your hobbies, values and beliefs. 

Think about it, you can’t control whether you’re the firstborn or lastborn child or whether you have blue or brown eyes, but you can control whether you take up reading or swimming as a hobby. You can also control whether you value selflessness or patience or whether you have the same beliefs as your friends. Aside from these areas, identity can also define us by giving us negative associations, which begin to influence the way we think and act.

Perhaps, over the years, you’ve been identified as someone who doesn’t perform particularly well in school or you’ve pegged yourself as a procrastinator. These identifiers can often hold negative associations that we begin to use as life-crutches. We start believing these things about ourselves and this creates a mental block for further progress. 

We need to start overcoming these life-crutches
and start allowing our identity to shape us in a more
successful way.

An example of someone who was able to create a powerful identity is the story of Khangelani Sibiya. Mr Sibiya was brought up in Jozini Biva Reserve KwaZulu-Natal and went on to achieve a Bachelor of Education degree in Mathematics, Science and Technology. He has a passion for making difficult subjects like Mathematics and Science accessible to more learners. This passion drove him to experiment with different teaching styles that would improve the retention and understanding of his classes.

Some of his teaching techniques include creating WhatsApp groups so that he is able to share his knowledge and skills with learners and teachers across the country; creating songs that help with memorising information and creating dances that demonstrate the content he is teaching his class.

In 2019, he competed against some 79 teachers across the globe for the ‘Teacher of the Year’ award and won! His story is one that defies odds. A teacher in a country that is known globally as one which lacks educational resources and skills, was able to achieve such a profound and coveted award. 

If you’re thinking about this and feeling as though you are concerned about your own identity or maybe you even feel like you have an identity crisis, this is something that you can work through. First, it is important that you identify whether you really are experiencing an identity crisis. Typically, this would occur if you are going through the following:

  • You’re concerned about who you are or you are experiencing conflict in who you are
  • You have gone through a traumatic experience or a grand change
  • You are searching for life’s meaning

How to overcome identity blocks

Step 1: Take a moment and write down the negative things you believe about yourself.

In order to determine how to control your identity, you’ll first need to identify which areas need controlling. Take a moment to reflect on these areas and consider whether you have let these things define you.

Step 2: Why do you think you have developed this opinion?

This couldn’t have developed on its own. Think about where you might have started developing this identity block. Perhaps it developed in your home growing up or a teacher said something to you that moulded this impression or maybe it came from a friend. It’s important to try and identify the root of the issue.

Step 3: Do you think that this is something you can control or change about yourself?

Most of the time, you’ll find that the things that you dislike about yourself can be changed. We control much of how we identify ourselves. You may wish that you were more of an academic or that you could be more sporty or maybe you wish that you were better in the musical department. All of these things take time and practice to master and many of your wishes can be realised by spending hours putting in the time and practice that would be required to improve.

As you journey into 2020 and explore your identity you might decide you want to become something completely different. Take this opportunity to consider the changes you want to make and start making these changes today. Remember, this might not be something significantly life-altering but every small decision can shape you into the person you’re looking to become.

This article was originally published on 31 Jan 2020

About the author
Mekayla Preiss

I am a Copywriter and Content Creator for I enjoy getting creative and have a passion for people and crafting compelling content, I hope to inspire the next generation of learners and changemakers.

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