Identity. Defined as “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is,” essentially, identity can be boiled down to who you are as a person, the things, or groups you relate to.
But, what if you don’t know what or who to relate to? Identity is, of course, a broad term, which can refer to several different things, but for the purpose of this post, we will talk about group/collective identity; the sense of belonging to a group.
Identity crisis is a term coined by German psychologist Erik Erikson. According to Erikson, identity crisis takes place during adolescence. A stage at which adolescents search for a sense of self and personal identity. An age where we become more aware of ourselves and our surroundings, and where we may feel the need to belong somewhere. Although your adolescent years may bring about questions in your identity, experiencing an identity crisis is in no way exclusive to adolescence.
Identity crisis results from a change in your environment, for example: losing or starting a job, beginning or ending a new relationship, experiencing a traumatic event, or moving.
Identity crisis, a term I think most of us are familiar with and maybe something you have even struggled with can present itself in different ways, such as gender identity and sexual identity. The form of identity crisis that I’ll be talking about today, is that of not knowing where you belong because you feel like you belong to multiple groups. I know…sounds like a lot, but stay with me here.
As for myself, I had my struggles with identity. I was born and raised on Aruba, but in my household, we speak Spanish because my mom is from Venezuela. But then again, my passport says I’m Dutch. Once I moved to the Netherlands, I felt this divide grow even stronger. Because now that I was in an unknown country, I didn’t feel like I really knew who I was. Am I Aruban? Venezuelan? …Dutch?
Growing up I didn’t feel Aruban, because the culture wasn’t something that was prominent in my house, but at the same time, I didn’t feel Venezuelan, because although I may relate more, it’s not a culture that I’m super familiar with. And although my nationality is Dutch, I for sure don’t feel Dutch. So…what am I? Who am I? That was a question I felt I needed to answer.
Now, it’s all fine and dandy knowing that questioning your identity is not tied to your age and that it’s a very common phenomenon. But, what do you do with this information? What do you do if you’re feeling this way, and how can you come to terms with it. Now, you may already know this but just to be sure, there is no one single formula in how to deal with an identity crisis.
However, there are ways to go about it. You can Google it and find a Wikihow article with 14 ways to resolve an identity crisis (with pictures).
In it being a very common thing, there’s also a lot of information out there. But I’m here to give you my take on it.
I would say, explore the different sides of yourself. As if you're cultivating new leaves on a plant. Whether that means learning about the different cultures you associate with or asking your relatives about your familial past. Whether it’s just listening to songs in your native/second/third language. Explore. See what speaks to you to the most, where your beliefs line up the most. And what simply feels right to you.
Having said that, I think it’s also important to also ask yourself whether you NEED to belong anywhere. Should you even commit to only being one thing? Is it really that important to you to feel like you’re a part of something? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s bad to belong, absolutely not. What I’m saying is, if you don’t know what’s “right” or “more you,” ask yourself if it’s important to you to categorize yourself in a group.
Personally, I am a culmination of all those cultures. I’m like a potpourri, a mix of my ancestors and personal experiences. And for me, that feels right, that feels 100% me. And that’s it, that’s as much importance as I place on my cultural identity.
So if you’re struggling with an identity crisis, know that you’re not alone in it. Know that you have time and space to explore who you are and who you want to be. Know that it’s okay to want to belong to a group. And it’s okay if you don’t.
All that matters, in the end, is that you feel good and happy about who you are and the actions you take. Your identity is what you choose to make of it and can be ever-changing.
pc: Issa Arts
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blogpost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Phryme Magazine.