Who Am I? First Steps in Exploring Identity

"Who am I?" It's a question we've all asked before. While some aspects of identity remain relatively constant throughout the lifespan, other parts of identity are constantly changing. For example, an inevitable change is age. As one grows older, the brain structure changes, societal expectations on you change, and one's role in the family changes. It's no wonder that many of us are hit with "quarter/mid-life crises!" So it's OK to not know who you are. In fact, the less you know about the current you, the more there is to explore and learn. To answer the question "Who am I?" try starting with the exercise below.

A Simple Exercise

List 5 words or phrases that describe who you are. Write them down. And notice the ways you identified yourself. 

Listed below are categories of commonly used identifiers. Did you write anything down that related to your:

  • values
  • personality
  • appearance
  • family dynamics, relationships or roles
  • skills or talents
  • career or vocation
  • experiences, trauma or growth
  • morals, religion or belief system
  • culture, ethnicity, race or heritage
  • hobbies or passions
  • dreams, aspirations or goals
  • achievements
  • different names
  • gender, sexuality or presentation
  • age, life stage or cultural generation (i.e., gen-z, millennial, gen-x, baby boomer)
  • emotions, thoughts or reactions
  • health status or diagnoses
  • abilities or disabilities
  • geography or citizenship 
  • wealth or class
  • strengths or weaknesses?

Questions to Ponder

How do your 5 words/phrases compare to what you would have answered in the past? What has remained constant and what has fluctuated the most? What part of your identity holds the most weight for you?  How would other people identify you and how does that make you feel? 

Remember that your identity is not defined by these 5 phrases. Rather, use what you learned from this exercise to build self-awareness and language around how you view yourself.

About Sarah Wang

Sarah Wang, LPC Associate, received her BS in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Wheaton College. She specializes in multicultural issues, racial trauma and systemic oppression, gender and sexuality, LBGTQ+, career issues, addiction, and depression. She has a background in cross-cultural college ministry, brings an empathetic and understanding person-centered approach to counseling, and is solution-focused, believing practical skills, tools and plans are sometimes necessary to encourage healing and change. She sees young adults and is supervised by Jenny Wang, LPC-S at Lifeologie Counseling Frisco, Texas.

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