Who am I? – Thinking about Identity
The other day I was out dancing and someone told me that they will have to get up early the next morning, which they hate because „I’m such a B-Person“… This reminded me of how much it annoys me when people talk to me in labels. And how much it also annoys me when they talk about themselves in labels. Even more so, when the labels belong to systems that suggest, the world has 2 kinds of people. Like A- and B-People. (Although there could be a lot more letters… what would a Q-Person be in this?)
As long as I can remember, I have reacted quite strongly to stereotype jokes and comments. I felt quite locked in and pressured when I thought I should be defining my identity. Or other people’s identity. I also get quite queasy when people start talking about their personality; and horoscopes freak me out as well as „national identities“.
I was so allergic to these concepts that I neglected any kind of generalization and was very keen on always saying everything as open and correctly as possible. Now, as you know, this too can be quite exhausting and how would I even think that I could ever take everything into consideration? I wouldn’t be able to, but I was trying hard and in this I could be quite humorless and strict. People who did use stereotypes in whatever context were insensitive, blind and maybe also dumb. For sure they weren’t sitting on the high horse that I was riding on.
In the past couple of years I have a sensation of being more relaxed with this issue, I am less agitated when someone makes a simple joke and I do too make stupid and simplifying jokes. I enjoy them. I would even say, that I can often see, which culture someone grew up in or spend a lot of time in, when I see them moving (especially freestyle-party-dance). Or that certain social cultures have certain stereotypical traits. I sometimes think „that’s such a stereotypical male behavior“ or „so typical mother behavior“. I don’t get offended anymore when someone tells me that I’m acting very German. Or that I move in a feminine way.
What I still cannot except is, the fixation implied by one of these categories. Or when someone tells me the way I am is BECAUSE I’m a German or a woman or a child from a divorced family or a dancer or… Or when something I do is assigned to yet another category immediately, which I’m now part of… When I first got together with a woman and lived with her „Ah, so you are a lesbian“. When I later on was with a guy „I don’t understand, so… are you bisexual“? And I don’t see why that matters? Instead of seeing me, there is this tendency of wanting to put a person in a larger context. And in personal contact, I dont understand why this is necessary or even helpful.
I hear that there are people who like to identify with a larger group. I like to be in a group, when I connect with the people, to have contact or closeness, to have a network or someone to dance with – depending on what defines the group. But I keep wondering about this sensation of identifying my personality with one group.
Am I a Lindy Hopper? Well – I dance Lindy, so yes. But culturally, socially am I? I don’t know.
Am I a German? Yes, born raised and my passport is German. There are quite some things that could be German though, that I don’t think I am. Am I a woman? Yes. But because the term „woman“ can also be a social construct, differing depending on who uses it, I wouldn’t „identify“ with it. I identify with my own version of being a woman. I also am a Schwanhäußer, but I’m quite sure that my definition of what that means would be a very different one than for example my grandfather used to have.
I simply don’t understand the concept of identifying with a social or cultural group. Whenever I try or „get identified“ it just gets complicated in my mind, because of the exceptions and the places where I agree, where I don’t. So it doesn’t really give me something to relax with.
The more I learn to notice my body though, the more quiet I perceive my mind. While a predefined category is fixated, the body is constantly changing – even if only in small things and even if there are also things that remain. The more I can just be my body – the more I can be in different contexts, mingle with different groups, meet all kinds of people, do different activities. I’m not dependent on a single activity or group to confirm my identity and that feels well. When I’m confident within myself, changes in context don’t question who I am; they just add another flavor, another aspect to my life.
I guess, this is also why I enjoy learning to notice more an more of my body. I learn to notice more, where am I reacting out of habit and adapting to a social category and where do I act, because this is who I am right now. And where those two overlap.
Sometimes I can notice a feeling out of habit and don’t quite know yet, how to change anything about it. But I know, that if it is bothering me, I can learn to deal with it eventually. I can pay attention to what is created in my body, how this habit starts, and play with alternatives. Try out new things.
Eventually I might change my reaction, my attitude or not. But all along, I can identify that this is me.
I would say, I identify very much with being Aninia.
Maybe having an unusual name helps 🙂 But even with a more common name, I am my body.
What do you think about identity? Do you identify with something specific?
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