Reader Question: Identity and Introspection

A reader asked the following over at my tumblr:

I have to write pieces about myself and “who” i am and put them into a little book as a final project for class but i dont want to reveal too much of myself because what i believe in is kinda similar to what you write about.which are so good i love reading your work btw!! How do you reflect on yourself or what do you do to understand “who” you are and write it down? Its a “personal project” but i dont see how its personal if i have to read some of it in front of my class! Its hard for me! :/

My response follows:

Hahahaha, I had a similar experience many years ago (god, I’m getting old).  Ended up convincing the teacher to just let me write about something else.

However, let’s tackle introspection.  It seems we have two quandaries here.  First, you need to be somewhat evasive, second you need to find out ‘who’ you are.

I’ll be brutally honest.  I have no grasp on identity, even after 100s of hours of psychotherapy and 100s of my own hours spend searching for the answer myself.  The best approach that I can think of is to – at all times – evaluate your motivations and your thoughts.  Why are you engaging in a certain behavior?  Why do you like what you like?  Why do you feast on the lambs around you?  Is it boredom?  Is it preference?  Is there consistency? Consistency is the key to forming some sort of identity that is more than facts.  Are you consistently caring?  Callous?  Bored?  Misanthropic?  Why do you “see” when you look inside?

I am not sure why I cannot formulate identity.  I believe it is because of my grand inconsistency with my preferences and personality.  Because I am a shapeshifter and chameleon, I take on the personalities of those around me.  For similar reasons, the preferences I take when it comes to the arts around me changes as quickly as I can master my analysis at hand.  One day Pink Floyd, one day Cannibal Corpse as an analogy to my musically inclined readers.

All you can do is ask the questions needed and hope that answers come.  Understanding your motivations is key.  Also, as I mentioned, looking for patterns is key.  Many believe in a nonsensical notion of fixed identity and personality and that others must surely know such as well.  We need not.

Of course, you can always lie for the project at hand.

Please let me know one way or another if this helps.  Based on your feedback I may be able to guide my analysis a bit better.

Good luck and godspeed!

As always, readers should feel free to drop me a line via email, social media, or here in the comments.  I never publish the identity of those asking questions.

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