I don’t know if we get a conscious choice when it comes to identity. The way we’re perceived is so often misread or warped. Identity is often labelled ‘fluid’ which is true to an extent, but I think that the main component of your identity is its ability to absorb. Both consciously and not. I could select a handful of traits that make up my identity – or rather, what I perceive to be my identity – and trace them back to cultural or familial influences.
Nature vs nurture at it’s finest.
But the deeper elements of me, the bits I can’t truly grasp but are nevertheless there anyway – where do they come from? If it’s my subconscious mind that chooses which bits should be absorbed, which bits will affect me deeply enough to stay with me – how can it choose? Or does it not choose, and instead – like glitter or dirt caught in glue – experiences and observations get caught and no matter how hard I try, I can’t shake them off. Is my identity therefore a rolled-up bundle of careful selections and permanent burdens? Could I still have what I recognise as an identity without one of these elements?
If I were primarily made up of selections, I would have more control over who I am, but that would never work out for the best. On the other hand, to be composed entirely of burdens would see me barely able to crawl my way through life. I think that being comprised of a set of both saves me.
My most easy to grasp ‘selected influence’ and ‘reluctant burden’ balance each other out. The influence being the love of my family (which, if it were a physical entity, would be my dearest possession) and the burden being the knowledge that I am capable of purposely harming my body during the grey haze of self-pitying despair. Without my family’s love, I may have suffocated in that haze. Without the knowledge, it’s possible I could have drowned in love – ultimately leading to the bad kind of ego and recklessness.
Perhaps this is where so many fall. They may lack the balance between influence and burden. If it is that it comes in pairs, I feel sure that I must have unbalanced sets. Else I would be perfect. I don’t believe anyone is completely balanced; just that for some, the scales are tipped to one side. But there’s always a chance to add more to either side. There must be infinite room on identity’s scales, or we would fail to grow.