Have you ever tried to explain to someone who you really are? At a party, on the top of your CV or your dating profile? It’s really hard!
We can break it down into parts: what are my beliefs, personality traits and hobbies? What do I look like? What’s my social and cultural background? But explaining what our identity is, what makes us who we are, can be more challenging. Is it the sum total of these parts, or something different altogether?
Watch as Beth, Isaac, Jemmar, Autumn and Fatima talk about what identity means to them and how they celebrate theirs.
Let’s recap on those words of wisdom.
You don’t have to fit into a box
People might try to make you fit neatly into a box, but you don’t have to. There will be labels that you like and that are important to you – hang on to those. There will be others that you might want to throw away. You choose, not anybody else.
Fatima explains that when she was younger, in some spaces, she was made to feel that “Muslims are Asians and that’s it”, but when she was in other spaces she was told “You’re not black because you’re Somali” and it made her start to question who she was and what culture she fit into.
“The older I’ve got”, Fatima says, “the more I’ve realised, I am who I am and it’s my duty celebrate that, for myself.”
Your identity will change and develop as you do. It might change slightly or it might change drastically. You might even surprise yourself as you learn new things about who you are – this is all part of the exciting journey that is life. Autumn embraces this. She says:
“I’ve been gender-fluid, identified as non-binary and gone through different identities and found what’s comfortable with me, but I also know this isn’t a finishing step.”
You write your identity
Because he’s disabled, people think Isaac is limited in what he can do and achieve. But he deliberately challenges society’s preconceptions: “I’m doing things that people with disabilities don’t usually do.”
Isaac identifies himself as many things, not just disabled. He’s adventurous, a risk-taker, an explorer, a ‘people person’ – but overall, he says:
I’m a human being and I’m unique.
Different is beautiful
“When I was younger,” says Fatima, “I didn’t celebrate my identity because I felt like difference meant something ugly. I thought difference meant you were going to be ‘othered,’ meant you weren’t going to be accepted or valued or worthy.”
Being different is nothing to be ashamed of and it makes you unique. Don’t reach for other people’s labels, identify as yourself and love everything that makes you you.