Identity is at the core of who you are as an individual and as a member of groups in society. Your identity is unique and fluid – who you are now may be different to who you are tomorrow, next year and in your future. It can also be incredibly confusing. It can take a long time to figure out who you feel you are, and you may find yourself finding and then feeling like you have lost your identity many times through your life.
Your identity is shaped by many different factors:
- The way you look – skin colour, body shape, hair, eyes, height, sex characteristics etc.
- Your gender identity and gender expression
- Your sexual identity
- Your ethnicity – your family and where they come from, where you were born, where you have lived and where you live now, your languages and your accent.
- Your culture – your customs, practices and world views
- Your beliefs – your religion, morals and what matters to you.
- What you do – how you express yourself creatively, what you do for work, how you like to live, exercise, have fun and relax.
- Experiences in your life
- Your dreams – who you want to be and what you want to do.
What you think about yourself has a big impact on the way you feel about life. Your identity holds importance because it gives you a sense of purpose and belonging. It impacts the way you think, the words you use, what matters to you, your actions and your relationships with others.
Sometimes you can also lose sight of your identity. Perhaps people have attached labels to you that differ from how you see yourself. Maybe your family hold certain expectations of you around what career you choose or what religious beliefs you must hold.
Maybe your gender or sexuality is different to others around you, and it’s difficult to tell people about your experiences or find friends who can help you understand key pieces of your identity.
Perhaps you just realise that who you saw yourself as previously doesn’t feel like you anymore. That’s pretty common too.
It’s important to remember that this is just a stage of your life, and over time you will become confident in yourself again. These changes can also be really positive for us so it might be helpful to see this period as an evolution of who you are, becoming closer to your ultimate self.
Sometimes parts of who you are may feel like they’re in conflict with each other.
This is completely normal – it sucks, but it’s okay to feel that way and it’s also okay to take your time in exploring how you can introduce who you are as a whole into certain parts of your life.
You don’t have to fix or change yourself for anyone and you don’t have to hide who you are unless you want to.
This is your journey and you can take it at your own pace – you get to decide when, how and with whom you share your full authentic self.
If you’re struggling with your identity, it can be really tough on your mental health. It’s important to not struggle with this alone, so reach out to someone you trust to talk about how you’re feeling so that they can support you.
Where to get help:
If you’re thinking about harming yourself or are having suicidal thoughts, call Lifeline on 0508 82 88 65 now to talk to someone who cares and can support you.