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Let's Get Honest About Identity

By Steve Wickham

What happened when I approached 40 also happened as I approached 50. Both seasons involved tremendous introspection, with associated reflections that catapulted me along.
Approaching 40 I was thrown into a two-month bout of depression; a kind of midlife crisis. Approaching 50 was very different. I enjoyed the fact that I was entering the age of legacy. But it's not like that for everyone.

It's something that happens in all our lives at poignant times. At major birthdays, in life transitions, in situations of colossal change, we are all periodically given cause for reluctant reflection. And when it boils down to it, reflection causes us to peer intently into identity; the actual 'material' we are constructed of.
Crisis of self inevitably leads us to engage with the self within our identity.

This challenge to our identity strips away the layers of veneer that protect us from reality, and suddenly there is a core exposed, and we are critically vulnerable to the elements of our existence. Self is raw. Self must wrestle. Self must find peace, but only through identity.

Within such seasons comes immense doubting, and departures into despairing are merely a heartfelt thought away, petrifying as that is. But what seems like a tragedy does have an eternal impetus about it.
What is always inconvenient, not to mention panic-producing, is not something we would choose for ourselves at any point. Yet, transformation beckons.

Now, the truth is transformation only occurs in states of spirituality where our comfortability is withdrawn. This is something to remember when the door closes on our hope.
The door to hope closes when a crisis comes that ultimately opens hope's door wide again.
[the key word is ultimately!]
Crises are not the end of what we value, they usher in the beginning of a new thing.

What lies deeper beneath is both a tremendous crisis and a significant opportunity. We need to begin to plummet before we sense the need to rise. It is only afterwards, after we have successfully tussled with the nemesis that is our unknown self, and brought reason to bear upon the conflict, that we see the purpose in the crisis of self.
Identity is always an enigma. I mean, I really don't like it when people make assertions that a Christ-like identity is a fait accompli. It's just not that simple. Anyone who makes the complex simple is asking for their own form of trouble. We cannot afford to become clich├ęd about identity.

Identity is complex psychological phenomena, yet paradoxically, it's as simple as learning to be ourselves.
We are all tempted to place our identity in how well we perform, our personality, how well we please people, what we possess, even the power we wield. We make idols of what constructs our identity. It is never as simple as pretending that we have made it.
Ultimately, we need to realise we never make it; that life is merely a course of becoming. Accept that and we find more peace immediately. We drop the perfectionistic facade that rumbles inside many of us.

There is hope whenever we are honest. Becoming honest about our vulnerabilities, about our flaws, and about the very things that rip away the facade of identity - the power we cling to, the personality we are proud of, our performance that is fleeting, the possessions we can hide behind, the people we cannot bear not to please - is truth that sets us free.
Once the facade of identity has been ripped away, we enter the authentic identity of a humility that bears the present peacefully, as it is.

The authentic identity is a safe version of us, where we no longer need to hide, or pretend to be someone else.
We can afford to be ourselves, because that's what we have, and what we have God blesses. God cannot bless any fabrications of character or pretention of behaviour. But he loves it when we are truly ourselves, without pretending to be somebody else.
Being ourselves is, and we must admit this, a continual challenge but it is every bit achievable.
Crises of identity are an invitation to journey. It is ironic though that these crises come at the very time we fear the word 'journey'.

Hi! I research topics such as self-development achievement and mental health. I have a passion to use my life experiences and research to help others reach their full potential.