November 2017
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identity: who are you? not what's your name, not what do you do -- WHO are you?


Who are you? How do you answer that question? How do you define your Self?

A while back I watched Anger Management, and though I thought it went overboard even for an Adam Sandler movie, it had some interesting social insights (which is why I like Adam Sandler movies. You're rolling your eyes most of the time, but occasionally there's something that makes you stop and go "huh! didn't think about that before." Well, it works that way for me anyway).

There's a scene where the psychologist asks Sandler, "Who are you?" and he starts to tell what his job is, and the psych cuts him off and says, "I didn't ask what you do, I asked who you are." Sandler gets more and more confused and frustrated as he is unable to answer that question without talking about what he does; he doesn't know who he is, separate from his actions. This made me wonder -- how would I answer that question?

I've been thinking about it more and more; how identity is separate from actions, yet most people define themselves by their actions. "I'm a (insert career here)" or "I'm a (insert sexuality here)" or "I'm a (insert art/hobby here)." But if I lie, that doesn't make me a liar; if I dance, that doesn't make me a dancer. If I cry a lot, that doesn't make me a depressive; if I often smile and laugh, that doesn't make me a happy person. If I have sex with many people, that doesn't make me a whore; if I refuse to conform in any way, that doesn't make me a freak. I don't believe in stamping people with their actions. What you do is not who you are.

I am a PERSON, and so are you, and actions are an expression of self overlaid by our current level of maturity. The more mature we are, the more our true self shows through our actions -- but unless you are extremely mature, only you (and those practiced in observing you) know when your true self is showing, and even then, it's just a feeling, a sense, an emotion -- nothing concrete. So you can't look at a person and tell who they are by their actions. It takes time and practice to be able to see through the actions to the true self underneath. If you have not invested the time and energy to learn to see a person, you have no right to try to define them with some sloppy label -- and if you have invested, there is no way you would try to define them by their actions.

Of course, this leaves me at a loss when I'm trying to describe a friend. "Oh, she's so amazing, she's just incredible..." and there really aren't any words that will describe a spirit! So I flounder about and try to think of actions that they do that show their true self, and I am left feeling SO dissatisfied, like I have just shown a black & white blurry photo of a sunset. It shows NOTHING of the true self -- that's something you simply have to experience for yourself. I think when Angelina said that she wants to taste everyone in the world, she meant she wanted to taste their spirit. She might have meant it sexually also, but of all people I think she most understands the euphoria of truly seeing the glorious wonder that glows within every single person. Before I die, I too want to taste everyone in the world.

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Comments
brighid0704 ══╣╠══
I like this post a lot. Identity is such a changeable thing, for, as we change, the person we are changes too. I really don't know how I would define myself, without slipping back into the whole action and emotion-based model.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
fascinating topic to think on, identity. ;-)
delicatexflower ══╣calm; drew. ever after. float╠══

WOW! this is so lovely! do you mind
if i add this to my memories? it's
so beautiful!

belenen ══╣beautiful╠══
of course I don't mind, I'm flattered! thank you! ;-)
smurfb1ue ══╣more good times to be had╠══
I think that's why I like photography so much. Every once in awhile you find pictures that really catch who someone is beneath the layers of words & actions & physicality.
belenen ══╣beautiful╠══
YES. me too!!!!! I so so so so so agree ♥
kmiotutsie ══╣╠══
i am a person who is fucking considerate to a fault -- i am a person who has been fucked over to a degree that's making me uncomfortably wary of everyone i meet -- i'm a person who's trying to work on that -- i am a reliable person; i am an efficient person -- i am a beautiful wonderful person -- i am a person who is full of love and a person who is full of tears and a person who wishes she had more someone's to lean on right now.

*weeps a little.*

/emo moment ;)
belenen ══╣console╠══
awww, Kat-love *hug hug* I'm sorry I've been so crappy about not being in touch lately! (I know that wasn't your point but I just wanted to apologize)

You are a fascinating, free, beautiful spirit ♥ and I love you *nuzzles* And I want to be more available -- even though I might be flaky sometimes, if you let me know that you feel in need of support, I will always be right there. Always. So, I might be unavailable sometimes but you can always count on me in times of need. *love* It's important to me to be there for you. ♥
mister_smartass ══╣╠══
while I understand what you mean, I do believe WE ARE WHAT WE DO. not what we do for a living, but what we do when it's 100% our choice.

I think in my soul I'm an architect. in most of the things I like doing (including computer stuff), the PART I like most is planning and building.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I think in my soul I'm an architect. in most of the things I like doing (including computer stuff), the PART I like most is planning and building.

exactly! I really understand that ♥
fionavere ══╣╠══
This post made me think of Babylon 5. I don't know if you're familiar with the show (if you're not, you should be!), but there is a highly advanced race, so advanced that they have achieved the ultimate goal in evolution- to become beings of pure energy. They are called the Vorlons, and they tend to ask the younger races "Who are you?" quite a bit. There is one episode in which they employ a "helper" (I won't give you too many details in case you want to watch it someday, because it's effing awesome!) to ask Delenn (my fav character, for whom my cat is named) "who are you", and she ends up basically being tortured for giving all of those automatic answers: name, rank, and serial number if you will.

Anyway, it's kind of heart wrenching because I, like you, believe that that question is pretty much impossible to answer with words. Language can be extremely limiting when it comes to matters of the heart and soul. This is why we were given things like sex to express love, and art to express how we see the world, etc. A person's actions do not equal who they are, but they are definitely a reflection of their person on some level.

It's one of those questions that could drive a person insane, because it has no answer. You could not write a post in livejournal that sums up who you are. It's one of those questions that renders language virtually useless. Interesting thoughts though. :)
belenen ══╣beautiful╠══
sex to express love, and art to express how we see the world, etc. A person's actions do not equal who they are, but they are definitely a reflection of their person on some level.

I definitely agree! and I looooooooooooove what you said about sex and art ♥ very beautiful and true words.
brassdaughter ══╣imagine╠══
I really enjoyed reading this. One of my great frustrations has been the extent to which we define ourselves by jobs and career paths, especially.
For my part, I'm too apt to define myself by the people I love.
belenen ══╣nuzzle╠══
too apt to define myself by the people I love

ahh, that too.

moon_orchid ══╣Happy in Mud╠══
I am...
- passionately committed to redefining systems that support dignity and equitability for all living things and that ensure a sustainable and healthy future
- tireless, bold, impetuous
- sensitive, emotional, fierce, quick-tempered
- compassionate, loving and easily inspired

And, of course, this isn't all of it...What I've learned most is that who I am and what I'm capable of is infinitely bigger than what can be expressed or understood at any one time. Which is hard to remember when I'm being my wonderful, imperfect self. ;)

belenen ══╣powerful╠══
what an awesome icon! :D

What I've learned most is that who I am and what I'm capable of is infinitely bigger than what can be expressed or understood at any one time

and what a powerful, beautiful thing to know! ♥
blood_4_deniro ══╣╠══
i never really thought of that question before. probably because i'm not sure of the answer yet. i never really defined myself by what i do (job-wise). but maybe we are if we're doing what we really want to do with our lives. my fiance is an architect, and i'd in a way define him that way, in the sense that he's very architect-like. he's attentive to details, he likes planning things, etc. i'm studying to be paralegal (law school = $30000 a year i dont have), so i looooove debating and i'm always devil's advoate and love researching things for fun *is a nerd* but i try not to label people on their occupation, college major, lack of education, etc. i really try not to label anyone based on anything, or label myself really. i think what i'm trying to say in a round-about way is i have no real idea who i am, or at least i dunno how to express it in language. i'm working on it tho.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
language is too linear and people are multi-dimensional -- words can only do so much, you know? ;-)
deleon ══╣╠══
This is why when I am conversing with people I don't know very well, I try my hardest NOT to ask what they do for a living. I'd like to hope that the rest of their lives define who they are, more than their jobs.
belenen ══╣iconoclast╠══
yesssssss very cool!
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.