Identity

Others introduce me as..

… “my daughter”

… “my friend”

… “my student”

quickly followed by..

… “she is doing her PhD”

To the world, my career defines my identity!

To me?

My career?

Nay.. I’d feel just as “professional” if I had chosen to work at Google or Microsoft or a start-up. Even if I had chosen not to have a career at all, I’d feel just as much self-worth.

My educational qualifications?

Nay.. I’d feel just as confident if I had done & stopped at a B.A. in Psychology.

My “geographical” or linguistic background?

I’d feel the same even if were from Mars & did not have the concept of language!

My religion or the lack of it?

Do I really care about “religion”? No. . I don’t.

My beliefs?

Bah.. how can something that’s ever changing “define” my identity?

My gender?

I would not let an X vs Y chromosome random accident to define me.

My being single, free of “baggage”, free of “responsibility towards a relationship/home/family”?

Of course not. . if & when all these change, these would become part of my lovely experience identity and accommodate the new incoming “current” parts.

My people – parents, friends – and the relationships I enjoy with them?

Admittedly dark, but logical argument : I am not going to lose myself if I lose one of them. So, No.

So..  none of the above define my identity. But ALL of them do.

It is the collective being stronger & more meaningful than the individual.

So, why am I being told so often that I do not really know life & my “true” identity yet?

That my “true” identity is in being someone’s spouse? That I would “naturally” grow to equate my entire identity to a marital relationship?

That only motherhood lends “completion” to my identity? That it would be my sole & strong identity?

Are men ever told similar things? Not to my knowledge.

Do men believe similar things for themselves? Not to my knowledge.

Then why are women being told this?

More painfully, why do women believe this?

When would women get off this leaky boat and think of themselves as a person .. . a person whose identity and self-worth is sum of all the parts past, present and yet to come?

Conjecture :

  1. Patriarchy & social conditioning
  2. Being raised on fairy tale romances & “perfect wife”+”perfect mother”+”self-effacing woman”=”perfect woman” stories
  3. Low self-esteem & self-respect
  4. Being on the confusing brink of the transition from the state of the above three and the state of the opposites of the above three!

No.. don’t call that a Conjecture. . That’s the whole truth.

Wish the transition happens faster..

Just imagine a world where the weights attached to the “spouse” & “motherhood” parts are reasonable & not 49.9% & 49.9%…

So much more peace to this world & many lives..

Sigh!

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10 thoughts on “Identity

  1. What experience do you have with cultures different from the one you grew up in ? Did you ever live in a different culture for a while ?

      • I guess I should introduce myself.

        Hi, I’m Eivind, deligthed to meet you. (I was tempted into reading your blog because you made an intelligent comment on Indian Homemaker which I’ve been following for some time)

        I’m from Norway, it’s very different from India.

        I’m into having penpals. Thus I know people in many places that are very different from Norway. Some of them I know very well. One of them I ended up knowing so well that I today refer to this particular penpal of mine as my ‘wife’. She’s got Polish roots, but grew up in Eastern-Germany where I later lived with her for the first 4 years of our relationship.

        Apart from her, my friends include an Iranian atheist and language-teacher. A Tunisian muslim who generously offered not to kill me, despite me drawing Muhammed. A woman who grew up in a mud-hut on Trinidad&Tobago but today lives in Canda. A genius from Finland who completed her Ph.D in record-breaking-speed despite the fact that university taught in Norwegian which she didn’t even (at the time) know, and a South-African real-estate-agent and occasional prostitute.

        It’s safe to say my friends are a diverse bunch. However, I don’t have any Indian friends. Which is a pity, because India is awesome and I’d like to know a lot more about it than I currently do (which is aproximately zero).

        So why do I ask ?

        Because I’ve found that frequently, knowing how a certain thing is handled not just in one culture, but in several, gives a better perspective on the thing. If one alternative is all you know, then often both the good and the bad sides of that alternative become in a sense “invisible” to you.

      • Wow! That’s so absolutely awesome. I’m jealous 😉

        Yes, knowing just one culture does limit ones view of that culture and other cultures. Thankfully, books bridge the gaps to an extent. And blogs today, along with google help to a great extent too – both to analyse one’s own culture with objectivity and to pick and choose from other cultures. But yeah, having friends across cultures is something more precious.

        Thanks for taking time to read and comment. So glad to meet you.
        Btw, do you blog? 🙂

      • It is awesome. But also hard, sometimes. It’s easy to ignore suffering in the world when those suffering are just nameless strangers in a far-away country; “10 dead in Somalia”, who cares. In principle most of us cares, but in practice we do not lose much sleep over it.

        News is /different/ when you know that people you love and care about are living in the middle of it. I slept poorly during the post-election demonstrations in Iran, and during the most intense weeks of the Arab spring. We humans tend to work that way – when there’s a name and a voice and someone you know directly, you suddenly discover that you *do* care. The broken leg of our child, tend to affect us more than the 100 tortured and killed strangers.

        I’d not want it any other way though – if more people cared more about the situation in countries and cultures far from their own, I think we’d have a better world. And though I know it’s considered naive and perhaps even childish to still dream of a better world after you’re grown-up, I’m not about to stop. If settling is required to grow up, I don’t want any part of it.

        I do write regularily, but I seldom blog. I tend to prefer emails, allthough I often comment on blogs of others. For me, being able to have personal one-to-one relationships with people across the world has been the most awesome aspect of Internet.

        I’ll tell you a secret.

        I’m kinda hoping we’ll be friends.

        Time will show, I guess.

      • I so totally get that point of view. I experienced that kind of sleeplessness when loved ones moved to a notoriously crime-ridden place off the continent. But I have now learned to operate under the assumption that the default configuration is “Nothing too bad will happen to them – at most, they’d get robbed and that is Ok”. There is comfort in putting oneself in denial mode sometimes.

        Is it naive & childish to dream of better world after you are a grown up?? 😀 I never knew. .. Na.. I delete that point from memory & continue to dream!

        I’ll tell you a secret too. The moment you mentioned penpals across the globe, I kinda hoped if we could be penpals. . Brought back nostalgic memories of penpals as a child. 🙂

        Let time show nice things.

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