When was the last time you followed a crowd? I hear that you say to yourself; “I don’t follow crowds, I’m an individual!”
However, as I recently learned in psychology, everyone conforms at some point, either to fit in or to be right. (I often want to be right). You may think of yourself as an independent person, but how far would you really stray from society? Be an outcast or a black sheep?
It is pretty much in our human nature to be sheep, and follow a leader at some point. There’s nothing wrong with following a leader, it’s basically a survival instinct. But aside from survival tactics, can your personal identity be applied the same?
What is personal identity?
Is it how you view yourself? Your personality? Your humour? Your star sign? Or is it what you’ve been told it is?
“Oh them? Well they’re nice, yeah, maybe a bit introverted, you know? They’re funny though, likes film a bit too much”
How often have you heard descriptions of yourself from others and assume that that is you?
Do you associate yourself just from what others have said? Or do you truly know your passions, hobbies, character traits, etc enough to gather your own identity?
Sure, it is probably most helpful to acknowledge other’s opinions and let them influence your personal perception, to avoid bias and all, but what you should have as the foundations of your self identity, is your own thoughts about who you are, which you wouldn’t question about.
Self identity cannot necessarily be defined so easily through just personality, but anything that you can associate yourself with, things and emotions that resonate with you.
Overall, your self perception and identity should ground itself on personal thoughts and associations, but you should allow some degree of influence from others to shape your presentation. (And to avoid looking self-centred)
So here’s your ultimate rule to live by: you should not have to explain your self identity to others, if you know it is true to yourself and within yourself.