We are created with a unique identity, a role in the larger story. But early on, other players handed us a revision.
The world sets in to make us what it wants us to be, and since we have to survive, we try to make ourselves into something different hoping the world will like us better. In The Sacred Romance, there is an idea called the Ontological Lightness which states, “you are as a feather in the wind; you’re very identity is synonymous with activity.” The problem is others are too important to us. We need their approval too much in our ontological light condition of living, so we work hard to get it. If we do in fact look to others for approval and acceptance, how much freedom does that lend us to choose who we want to become? Are we at the mercy of our circumstances and interpretations of those who influence us the most? Is not our identity somehow tied to those most significant people in our lives? Those of us who are ignorant of this reality, are we truly free?
That is the story of all our lives, needless to say, and in the process of living out that story, the original and glorious self become buried so deep that most of us hardly live out of it at all. Instead we live out the other selves whom we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather. But even in this, we fight an internal battle. A fearful longing awaits any who dare to look deep enough. We long to be perused, to be known, but we fear it like nothing else. Most people want to open up, to connect, to be truly known. But we fear if we do, others will be appalled by what we reveal. Something within tells us we aren’t what we should be, and so we live with the fear of not being chosen and the burden of maintaining whatever it is about us that might get us noticed and a commitment never to be seen for who we really are. We develop a functional self-image. And the awful burden of this false self is that it must be maintained. Here is our dilemma: we think we have to keep doing something that will bring us some attention, something that will make us desirable. And once we find that something we have to keep it up or risk the loss of attention.
Don’t most of us desire a life that will make us feel truly alive? Know this: you cannot have intimacy out of a false self. If you never offer the truest parts of you, it will be a rare moment indeed in which you feel truly alive.
There is no escaping your identity. What you believe about yourself is important. You will not live beyond how you see yourself; not for long. Keep in mind, how we see ourselves determines how we see others. We are our own lens.
Identity is not something that just falls out of the sky. Identity is given to us, it’s bestowed. We are who we are in relation to others. But far more important, we draw our identity from our own impact on those around us, if and how we affect them. So as we know, if we then live out of our false self, we cannot have intimacy right? With this comes a life with such little love and as a result we grasp onto what we do receive in a way that becomes defining. These moments may not reveal our true identity and calling, but they’re all we’ve got.
We will draw our identity from outside ourselves; the question is, from whom? In the end it will be from life-defining moments. Unfortunately these defining moments often accompany pain, a sin that pierces our hearts like an arrow, and deep within these arrows stay, poisoning our self-perceptions, shaping our personalities, until someone comes along with the power to take them away and free us from all the false selves we use to weather the world’s weather, and restore us to our true identity. Without such a person, we get lost in the smaller stories of our lives, anxiously looking about, hoping for a clue as to who we really are.
How reliable are these identities that we draw from others anyway? The evaluation of your soul is drawn from a world of people still terribly confused about the nature of their own. We must look beyond this world, to the unseen, to find who we really are.