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ID Me

Another thing I think they should teach in school is to explicitly discuss the concept of "Identity".

One of the most common things that keeps me up at night is when my brain decides to replay moments of my life where people observing my actions would have a very different view of me than I prefer.

It took this long in my life to reflect on how weird that is.

Growing up in Christian Sunday school I was taught about mind, body and soul, and I think at some point in my life, I conflated the "identity" I strive for as "my soul".

It is clearly different than my mind, and certainly not my body, thus just one obvious pigeon hole to place it in...

Especially these days with the rise of social media and "cyberbullying", I really think it would be good to directly call out what precisely is going on. To explain why it hurts when people start a rapidly spreading rumor about you online. To directly address that that is just coloring the view of certain people about you. That your identity is not a strict part of you that blackens, dies and takes you with it.

Even things like the great "It gets better" campaign sort of missed the point.

Being "gay" in High School is a strict identity because everybody talks about each other all the time. Being "gay" in a college or a modern workplace is much different, in that it isn't an known identifier any more.

It isn't that it gets better, it is that it stops strongly defining you to the people you are forced to be around.

Then there is the fallacy that we have a single, consistent identity.

The person I am at work has different priorities that my non-work self.

At work, I value my "work identity" of being a helpful and competent solver of problems. I like that version me, and I work hard and worry a lot about things that might happen to contradict that.

My "dad identity" is less clearly defined. Am I a fun friend? Rule maker and enforcer? Caring protector? Roughhousing Sensei? I don't know. Do I have to choose one? Should I choose one?

Kids are clearly already doing this. I think it would be trivial and instructive to illustrate to them how they are different people around their friends than around the dinner table.

I think to point out that they do this, and how fleeting and interchangeable identity can be might help cushion some of the blows that their careful crafting of identities is likely to take, and to make them more mindful what they strive to be.

And to remind them that most people are sitting around worrying about themselves to remember embarrassing things about others, the actual damage to those identities has long faded in the minds of everyone else, and very often the only thing keeping those wounds from closing is our own compulsive vanity.

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