Identity: Who are you?

Who are you?

You are what you eat. Or what you drive, or where you live, or how you earn a living.

Of course, none of these are true. But…who are you? What’s the source of identity?

I spent thirty-five years working with adolescents. Perhaps the biggest developmental task for these kids was figuring out their answer to “Who are you?”

One of the really fun and frustrating aspects of working with teenagers is that they’re living, breathing contradictions in nearly every corner of their lives. Loving adolescents means accepting that they’re in-progress, which means taking them very seriously while being able to chuckle at their wildly incongruous actions.

In terms of identity, they’re absolutely certain about who they are. They’re absolutely certain they’ll always be that person. And they’re absolutely wrong.

Kids believe they are who they hang out with. They’re fiercely loyal to their particular group because, from their perspective, the group is literally who they ARE. They do crazy, dangerous, and often cruel acts—anything is justified by maintaining connection to their group. Lose the group, lose who you are.

Of course that’s simply not true, though you wouldn’t know it from the number of “adults” who continue to behave as though they’re identified by the people and circumstances around them.

I’ll toss this out for consideration: You are what you value. Or perhaps You are what you try to value.

Not “what you claim to value” but what you actually value, as indicated by your priorities, actions, and allocation of resources.

That’s what I’m exploring this week. Your thoughts?

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
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