Often times we will hear phrases like, “loss of identity” or “identity crisis”. What many people never stop to think about is what “identity” means. Generally identity can be taken to refer to specifications of a person, personal conception and expression or group expression and affiliation. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary identity carries the following meaning; the distinguishing character and personality of an individual or individuality. Everyone has an identity which they hold dear to them. Identity could be of various types; it could be individuality, racial, gender, political among others.
In psychology identity relates to self image or an individual’s mental model of himself or herself. In other word it is relates to self-esteem and individuality. This is the most critical aspect of identity. Self-esteem is an important contribute rot overall well-being of all people. Self esteem is the opinion one has of himself or herself. It is without a doubt that the environment we develop in and the experiences we go through shape our opinion of ourselves and therefore determine our self-esteem. A high self-esteem is when one has a good opinion of himself or herself. Low self-esteem is when one has a bad opinion of himself or herself.
Low self-esteem is like a cancer that keeps eating at ones confidence and sense of accomplishment. When one has low self-esteem then often times that person’s everyday life will be affected in that that person begins to accomplish less, kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is because that person sees himself o herself as unable to achieve compared to other or unreliable or even less attractive compared to others. As a result of this attitude the person’s behavior will almost always reflect this attitude and end up bringing the results that the person expected, failure an underachievement.
A positive identity or self-esteem on the other hand will almost always lead one to success. Like an image I once saw on the internet of a cat that was starring into a mirror and what was reflected was a lion! Just like that cat a person with appositive identity will always see himself or herself as capable of overcoming any challenge that comes across his or her way. This attitude goes a long way to ensuring that this person achieves success, think of Lance Armstrong who in spite of being diagnosed with testicular cancer went on to win the Tour de France seven times and founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation (Armstrong & Jenkins, pg 10).
Another aspect to identity is cultural identity. Cultural identity here covers, racial identity, and religious identity. There is nothing wrong with racial or religious identity as long as it does not border discrimination. However often times we find ourselves so engrossed with our racial or religious identities so that we often unconsciously favor those who identify with our identities and discriminate against those who are of a different racial or religious identity. As an international student I can attest to the truth of this as quite often I have been looked down upon simply for having a different cultural identity.
There has been a rise in an “us’ versus “them” mentality among non-Muslims and Muslims in the United States, especially following the September 11 terrorist attacks. It is sad to see people who once lived unrestricted by religious identities go to the level of phobia. People should learn push beyond these stereotypes that paint people of other religious and racial identities as inferior or evil. We are the entire human race; black, brown, white Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Atheist, we are all human beings. We should therefore love one another and appreciate our difference because it is what brings variety into our world.
Identity refers to an individual’s opinion of himself or a distinguishing character or personality in the person. A positive identity can go along way in ensuring success in a person’s life, while a negative identity does the opposite. It is therefore important that we cultivate appositive identity for ourselves. Cultural identity is also another aspect. I have learnt that it is important that we appreciate our varying cultural identities and that we foster love and cooperation instead of discrimination and phobia.