Honestly, who loves answering that question. Whenever I come across any variation of that, I struggle with what to put down. Humans are complicated creatures; how are we supposed to narrow all of our complexities into a couple paragraphs, let alone, a couple sentences?
I recently stumbled upon these thoughts as I was applying for jobs and reading back on a journal entry. Late last year, I was apart of an anti-racism cohort and one of our sessions was about “identity”. We reflected on how we identify ourselves and how others identify us. We shared it amongst our group and it was really interesting to see how folks interpreted it and what they wrote down.
This was actually the first time I ever took the time to really think about my identity. I’ve never been one to feel strongly about it and the different labels and characteristics associated with myself. There’s some that are obvious to me like that I am a woman, daughter, sister, and an Asian American. But beyond that, I had trouble allowing myself to be identified as “xyz” and felt like an “imposter”.
I had to grapple that what makes up my identity does not solely define who I am. And who I am today, may not be who I am tomorrow. Our identities are fluid and changing, and that’s a beautiful thing. Finding “who we are” will always be a constant journey throughout our lives and in the end, heck, we may still not fully know who we are. But having some sense of identity allows us to understand ourselves better and find commonalities within our community. It can bridge us (and divide us) and allow us to educate others that don’t have similar identities.
So for me, as of now, here are some words I comfortably associate myself with:
- Asian American
- Park Ranger
- Outdoor advocate
- Day Dreamer
As I always remind myself, we’re all just a work in progress. We don’t have to be confined to societal rules (and shouldn’t be) or need to be fit into a box. So be gentle with yourself and own your identity! If you haven’t yet, grab a pen and paper, sit down, and get to know yourself. Hopefully you discover something new or realize some things never change – which may not necessarily be a bad thing.