Ask yourself, “Who am I?” and see what you come up with.
Many friends respond that they are a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a neighbour, an office worker, and so on. Are these roles enough to convey who you are?
Dig deeper. “WHO ARE you?” Identity is often invisible – it’s something we feel but don’t talk about. It’s difficult to find labels. It’s easier to show who we are than try to explain. Figuring out who you and how you got to be this way are the purposes of my blog today.
Our individual sense of self comes from the social world around us (social constructs). We learn right from wrong based on the social norms that surround us – especially while growing up. When we are born, we are officially identified as a certain gender on our birth certificate and then that information informs how we are raised in a community that separates gender through clothing, behaviours, actions, family and workplace roles.
In most (if not all) communities, males have more power than females, adults have more power than children, and children have more power than pets. I’m not saying these family roles of power demand submission of any kind – they are simply accepted roles. During the childhood of anybody over 20 years old: girls were guided toward nurturing and caregiving roles and boys were guided toward physically strong or intellectual pursuits. Often they still are!
Power also appears in race, religion, fashion labels, a ‘better’ make of car, school or neighbourhood. None of this is a secret, however the way cultural power influences our sense of self and our behaviours is mysterious.
In our comfort zone we achieve a sense of belonging by feeling like we are the same as others – that we belong. If we are led to believe we are different to others we can feel anxious, awkward, want to retreat, feel insignificant, feel socially inferior and lose faith in ourselves as being successful (the list goes on).
However, if you are lucky enough to feel confident in your social world you think nothing of stepping forward, believing you are important and feeling great. You have a sense that you belong and others might even comment that they wish they had the confidence to stride through life like you do.
The comfort that we feel in our social environment is handed to us (or taken away) by others. While growing up we internalize judgments of others like, “Don’t play with those children they go to the public school.” and “She’s so heavy… He’s so ugly…. They are losers… Did you see what she was wearing?!… Their food smells weird… She’s useless… He’s my King… Don’t cause trouble… Respect your elders…”. We realize from a young age that there are categories of people whose labels prevent them from fitting in. But, once you understand the driving forces behind your feelings of inadequacy you can make changes.
Recognize that the way you feel about yourself has been placed into your mind by others and magnified by your sense of self as you process what has been told to you (or said about others within your earshot). Recognize this and reverse the damage. Make your way through the ridiculous social world we live in by taking little steps.
- Meet a friend at a cafe for a coffee and plan to spend just one hour – your friennd won’t know you’re practising how to be social.
- Do you like the clothes they wear?
- Could you mirror what they do with their hands while they sit chatting?
- Did you take notice of the words do they used in saying hello? Try to remember to ask them the same small talk questions they ask you (How are you? What have you been doing lately?) Then elaborate on their answers.
- Do you have answers prepared for when they ask you those common questions?
- Are there any hobbies out there you want to start? Google it and join a club, meet people, volunteer, smile, join in, enjoy!
- Remember, when you are around children, never make negative comments about another person, religion, culture, race.
THEN you can check in with yourself by asking: “Who am I?”
Here’s my answer (for today):
- I’m a writer and a sociologist.
- I’m smart.
- Single, but a little broken.
- Sometimes lonely, usually not.
- I am: mother, sister, daughter, ex wife, tarot card reader.
- I am a supportive friend.
- I am a good dancer.
- I love to laugh.
- I have been described as quirky – and I like that.
- I am welcome at social events. (well… I’m not unwelcome!)
- I have an awesome sense of humour.
- I let my inner child walk beside me at all times, ready to leap forward and laugh.
- I have an overdeveloped sense of empathy – which I like.
- I am sensitive to my surroundings.
- I am helpful.
- I’m open and accepting.
- I am a terrible cook.
- I am tolerant, which isn’t always a good thing.
- I am so much more than any words on a page can convey.
Now, begin to ask yourself, “Who am I?” If you don’t like the answer then it’s okay to change!
Self confidence gives you a confident outlook, making you shine from within. Everybody gravitates towards positive vibes.