Identity is something which is hard to define as a constant as it’s an ever changing value. The Oxford Dictionary attempts to defines it as “The fact of being who or what a person or thing is”. Exactly what someone is or is not is an ongoing experience so often we can all find ourselves lost in who we exactly are. Often I find it easier to figure what I am not, rather than what I perceive myself to be, “I’m not the best at forgiving” rather than “I’m not forgiving”.
In the 21st century we are finding ourselves with more and more free time to lend to thought and reflection in our lives. Often this leads to individuals pursing dreams or goals, such as a trip to a far away land, buying a fast car or completing a marathon, in order to find a sense of themselves during the journey. These acts generally secluded to middle aged individuals, often described as a “midlife crisis”.
But a crisis of identity should never be assumed to be a problem of older generations, more and more we’re seeing young people, particularly teenagers, in conflict with who or what they are. Trends such as the Flower Power Movement, Gothicism and even more recently Hipsterism, have given weight to the problem.
In a Capitalist 21st century world, where less and less believe in any faith, consumerism is King and people set to define themselves by the label on the back of their shirt or skinny jeans. Ironically, while trying to set themselves apart from the herd, Hipsters are in fact overindulging themselves to the ascribed universal faith of “You are what you consume”.
While we are all guilty of this in some form and I am certainly no exception, I have found some solace. As an Irishman I take pride in my country and people, it’s something I can identify with and feel a part of. Closer yet, I (as anyone who knows me) take great pride in my own surname. To me it signifies that I’ll always belong to something and knowing the history of the name and where I’m from invokes a great sense of pride and comfort. Often when I feel lost I head there, the Burren, where I find both peace and comfort in my being.
Though one can never truly find their full worth or substance as an individual in others and must embark on that journey alone, having a sense of place or belonging is detrimental to begin the journey of finding oneself.