Are You the Same Person You Used to Be?
ABC 149: On whether or not our identities are fixed
Your identity is a story. It’s not something that you’re born with, like your eye color, or something that is bestowed upon you, like your nickname; it’s something that you actively construct.
According to the developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, an identity provides us with “the ability to experience one’s self as something that has continuity and sameness.” Teenagers might join a clique to get a sense of who they are by excluding others. New Yorkers might stitch themselves together using the colors of their favorite baseball cap.
Though for all we know about how identities are formed, one question remains: how much can they really change?
Research shows that personality is largely set from childhood, but what you’re like isn’t who you are. Erikson, for example, coined the term “identity crisis” to describe the feeling of instability of veterans returning from war. And yet, as the old saying goes, wherever you go, there you are.
Some people see their identity as a continuous narrative, while others tell the story as an episodic series. I loved this week’s piece because it explores multiple theories for why.
The author draws from poetry and social science research, impenetrable German philosophers and interactions with his four-year-old son. It’s a delight to read, and I guarantee it will linger in your mind long after you sip the last word.
Here’s the piece: Are You the Same Person You Used to Be?
P.S. The song of the week is a catchy indie track from a Croatian Mac Demarco type. The full songs of the week playlist is here.