Finding One’s Identity in this Big, Beautiful and Complex World.
Identity has become a huge topic of discussion over the last decade. We humans no longer wish to be placed in boxes, mislabeled, and jostled for our personal truth of what makes us who we are. To do this, we have had to explore issues of race, gender, religion, and politics.
And perhaps because of this, we have become more selfish. For example, we have dedicated pages to ourselves on social media to give us more of a sense of self — a way to be more than just being blips on satellite radars. We also have had to change our thinking about language to break free from gender norms. And we have become more vocal about our stances, stepping on proverbial soapboxes to make ourselves heard.
The answer is we’re ourselves and we’re everyone. Confused? Welcome to humanity.
As Lady Gaga so eloquently put it in her song of the same name, “Baby, I was born this way,” identity goes way beyond whatever reproductive system you were born with. Besides being an anthem for living out your truth, the song’s meaning stands out when you look at the science of what makes us individuals.
While our construct is a combination of oxygen, carbon, calcium, hydrogen and phosphorus, and a few other elements mixed in for good measure, our physical traits are instructed by our own very individual genetic code, that double helix known as DNA which defines each of our characteristics from the colour of our eyes to our susceptibility to certain diseases.
From the womb, we are birthed with the same needs and wants. We all desire and require nourishment, connection, and protection, but we also respond to our environment and emotional situations differently.
In his ground-breaking book, Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self, The Neurobiology of Emotional Development, Allan N. Schore, psychotherapist and professor at the University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine, reports that the human cerebral cortex adds approximately 70% of its final DNA content after birth, and this expanding brain is directly influenced by early environmental enrichment and social experiences.
So how we identify ourselves is also a learning process as we grow and mature.
Today’s Identity Crisis
As of late, the political spectrum has also had an effect on our collective identity. While some people are hellbent on building walls with the resurgence of nationalism and separatism, others have worked towards bringing us closer together. Those in the BaHái faith believe that the world should not exist with borders:
In the Tablets of Bahá’ullAah, it’s written that:
While we continue to identify one another by our geographic location on this planet, in the end, we are really one. We look at the same stars, walk the same earth, and breathe the same air.
The BaHái may be on to something. When those borders are broken down and we truly accept that we are all different, but also the same, we can be free.