Daria Zamă and Monica Mihu
“Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, a man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.” – B.R. Ambedkar
As we live our lives, no matter in what manner, with whom and where, at some point we just stop and ask ourselves “Who am I?”, “Why am I like this?” or “How did I end up to be like this?”.
In many dictionaries, the term ʽidentity’ has multiple definitions: “the condition of being a certain person or thing”, “the set of characteristics by which a person or thing is definitively recognizable or know” or “the awareness that an individual or group has being”. Said in an easier manner, this means that our identity is a combination of self-identity and collective identity. It is what makes us unique and different from others plus what we have in common with other and the belonging to a certain group, culture, religion and so on. But then, other questions pop up. How much is my self-identity and how much is my collective one? What is the percentage between them? And equally important, how much are we allowed to develop one part better than the other? Or how opposing are these two identities?
With such questions, a person might find it hard to find its way and live peacefully, when the identities do not match harmoniously. In such cases, someone might find different ways of coping with this type of problem.
- Connecting with your self-identity more.
Having a collective identity that does not feel right, one ends up to put it aside as much as possible and begin a journey of having a better understanding of one’s self. This might happen in the cases of people who are mixed races. Not feeling that they belong to neither of the cultures and traditions of one parent or the other. Therefore, they decide to not let either one of them define him/her and they create a much stronger self-identity that is opposite to both the collective ones.
- Connecting with your collective identity more
In these cases, it is possible that the self-identity, from diverse reasons (either it is creating to many problems and struggles, either it is too weak under the pressures of the collective one and so on) will be left aside. This might happen in cases where people realize they have different sexual orientations and revealing this and living in that manner might bring them many troubles and, in some cases, even death. So they conform.
- Switching between them
Not feeling comfortable with neither one or the other, one might chose to switch between the two identities. And this might be not only because of the certain people that are around, but just because it might not feel right. And this can be really confusing, making one feel as if they do not have neither a feeling of belonging, nor a feeling of uniqueness.
So how can one find a harmonious combination between self-identity and collective identity? There is no right answer that can be applied to everyone yet… However, one can try to find out what makes them happy, tranquil or content and them act accordingly. Yes, it may be hard and yes, it may bring problems. But isn’t your happiness and well being more important than anything else?