Our identity is made up of many different layers. As individuals we are all unique, so finding out who you are and what’s important to you is something only you can do. For most people this is a process that continues throughout our lives, as identity isn’t rigid but is influenced by the world around us. As you are growing up, the question of who you are is particularly important as you form a life apart from your parents and family.
Some factors that make up your identity include:
But other things like personal tastes (what music or clothes you prefer), values and attitudes are also really important. Your upbringing, family, friends and cultural values will be a big influence but as you get older you may find it harder to accept certain values, or else feel pressured to conform to other people’s.
Counselling or therapy can offer you space to really think about what matters to you. Maybe you have a tendency to follow the crowd because you’re worried about what other people will think if you express a different opinion, or dress in a way that stands out from the rest of your friends. You might find that you try to change yourself to fit in with other people. Or perhaps you feel stereo-typed or labelled and find it hard to break free from other people’s expectations, whether positive or negative.
Getting to know yourself and being okay with that is important. It creates confidence and self-respect and helps your ability to form meaningful relationships. It might also give you a sense of belonging, and understanding of where you fit in to the larger community.