Seeing the World Through Identity-Colored Glasses

Scott Leonardi

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As we make our way down through the surprisingly twisted terrain of solitude and self-examination, it becomes increasingly obvious how much of our lives are spent maintaining some kind of identity just to make it through the day.

We can all understand the necessity of having multiple "faces" we have to wear in our everyday lives, but as much as we all like to think we remain 100% true to ourselves at all times, I'm willing to bet you don't act the same around your best friends as you do around, say, your boss. While we could claim to roam the city streets of life in as adult a fashion as our inner child's can muster, most people would admit that they step into a different, and sometimes more regressive, version of themselves around when they go home to visit their parents. Our identities, or the version of ourselves that we most cling to throughout our day, is hard to see past when it's assumed that you need to use the machinery of that identity to function as a normal person in modern society.

Of course, you need a home-self, work-self, friend-self, parent-self, etc., right?

You couldn't possibly mix up those identities lest people become aware that you're actually some kind of malignant shape-shifter and merely playing charades to persuade the jury of your peers that you're a stand-up guy and distract the judges sitting behind the eyes of your acquaintances for long enough that they don't catch wind of your true diabolical nature. Then again, maybe that's the coffee talking. Cheers.

Sure, the "splitting" of our identity and the flexible nature we must learn to adopt to operate as an average person with common sense is a skill we do need and usually becomes more evened out and smoothed over as we get older and grow into our own.

While we're young, we tend to keep these differing versions of ourselves in entirely separate worlds as if it's our sworn duty as a rebel youth and psychological ghost-buster to never let the different streams of personality cross. As we age we realize that it takes WAY more energy to give away all your fucks freely to anyone you think deserves one than it does to simply keep them all to yourself and not give a single fuck about anyone's opinion. We start to see how much easier life is when stick to the one identity that rings most true and forget the excess influences of social circles and culture at large.

The problem with identity isn't only that it can affect how we interact with different people, but also that it affects our opinion of ourselves and guides our actions in potentially hazardous ways.

How much does the title of "writer", or "artist," or "entrepreneur," or "business owner" mean to you? Are you an engineer first and a mother second? Or politician second and father first? You get what I mean. I'm not going to go on a three page tangent on all the different combinations of titles a person could have in various orders.

My point is that whichever identity we feel we most resonate with is primarily the one that seems to steer our decisions.

It can be hard to simply ignore our impulse toward identification, especially while we're growing up and are searching high and low for new interests and experiences that enlighten or terrify us into revealing more about our true nature and who we really are at our core. But, we also learn to cling to actions and behaviors that those around us deem to be acceptable or hopefully even impressive. We more easily forgo autonomy in identity to acceptance from the crowd. As children and teenagers, we don't know any better.


Let's step out of the kiddie pool of the past and back into our present day situation. If you're like countless other people right now there's a good chance you were stuck indoors for a while due to the Coronavirus and the mandated quarantines all over the world. During this time of isolation and found free time, in what ways were you maintaining your normal perception of how you identified yourself? Did you still feel like the title that you're so used to carrying around? Or, did you notice your sense of identity was dissolving into the sands of seconds as time carries on with or without your involvement?

Have you noticed that it seems kind of silly to try and maintain any kind of ego-based identification of yourself while you're only companion and witness to your experience, is you?

What good does it do you to hold onto the various identities you normally use as a shield against the world when you're most dangerous expedition is to the other side of the living room?

As a newfound Carpet Crusader, there doesn't seem to be much need for crying your title to the heavens in an attempt to become "known" or justified in your actions. It feels just as satisfying to watch the world go by without your intervention at all. What use in an ephemeral identity in the face of introspection and self-actualization? It seems like that would only be a hindrance to real personal expansion.

Try to take note of what sorts of things about yourself you start to resonate with more than others. Keep in mind the things you find yourself doing that don't seem to fit into your usual identity-laced routines. Maybe you're doing these things for a reason. Maybe you don't quite relate to the labels you've been giving yourself or you simply find that they just don't matter as much to you as you thought they did. Maybe you'll find that your usual "work face" has long since slipped off and your "phone voice" is starting to re-tune itself to the vibration of your natural state.

These things aren't trivial.

You shouldn't just see it all as a symptom of solitude. There's a reason you naturally behave in certain ways when your actions aren't being guided by the mechanized obligations of civilized society. It's easy - we weren't always like this. Our biology knows this, as does our subconscious, way deep down past the forgotten influences and childhood traumas and over-exposure as infants to the relentless stimulation of the modern world.

We know how we should act, we feel it when we're placed into situations where we must turn off our evolved sense of excitement and revert back to our most basic instinct for peace and contentment amidst the unbiased cruelty of nature.

In our primal mind, there is no need for the kind of identities that we've placed such importance on in the World of the Future. And once we start to strip that need away, it is seen for the ego-game that it is. It proves itself to be an unnecessary trial to endure in the face of simple survival. It reveals itself to be a mere a candy coating, a shell to the soul, desperately trying to keep what's inside from melting in the searing heat of blatant rejection in the form of denial of societal salvation through validation. It holds no real substance beyond the special coloring with which we've dyed it.

I understand that the world has changed and personal identity has become its own sort of demi-god in our culture, but that doesn't mean we can't be aware enough of ourselves to see it for the cultural tool that it is, and not as a overbearing governing force for our lives.

Eventually, with enough time to reflect and become more in sync with your natural sensibilities, you're going to feel more inclined to drop the act and remove your identity-colored shades to stop seeing the world through the darkened tint of social influence and falsified character.

Don't worry, it's a good thing.

You shouldn't be wearing sunglasses inside anyways.

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I write a lot about self-development and personal growth. I want to help people uncover their authentic selves through creative expression and in the process understand their place in the world a little better. I also enjoy writing screenplays, short stories, and poetry. All of which can be found at

Imperial Beach, CA

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