The Theory Of Our Identity & Self Concept

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We hold several identities which fluctuate at different given points across time and space. A person will have numerous identities such as mother, professor, wife, helpful neighbor or friend. Each position has its own value and expectations that they are obliged to perform, and the roles becomes their identity. We play different roles at different times, sometimes we are responsible adults (“I can deposit the cash in bank”) and sometimes we are too careless (“I just drunk texted my boss!”). We switch roles very quick according to the situation and person we are dealing with.

Everyone of us has a perceived self and presenting self. Perceived self is an honest reflection of who you think you are (self concept) and presenting self is your public image; how you want others to see you. My perceived self would have traits like lazy and quiet, but I would want my public self to be recognized as patient, friendly and humble.

Goffman (1959) explained identity is an analogy of theatrical performance that each of us creates roles that reflects how we want others to see us and most importantly how a speaker presents himself to an audience. We manage and manipulate our identity for many reasons like: social role playing, avoiding blame, gaining credit, self esteem maintenance and strategic self presentation (focusing on one’s positive traits).

Identity management plays a vital role in our lives, we consciously and carefully manage ourselves while approaching others. Face to face identity management encompasses both verbal and nonverbal actions; from smiling to listening attentively to using proper physical gestures. Working in retail, I must smile and greet every single customer and pay attention to their needs. It makes them feel valued and it impacts the sales rates. Appearance shapes personal image, the way you dress and present yourself according to the place and occasion reveals major part of your personality and identity.

It is very important to dress properly; you cannot show up in your pajamas at an office conference, it sends out wrong information like being unprofessional. Lastly, the physical setting we use also impacts our identity. Where we live and the type of house we live in makes a strong statement about us, a person renting a basement might be considered poor than someone who is living in the second floor no matter if he is scared of heights and he enjoys the coziness of basement floor. Therefore, the house you live in cerates an identity for you and you are judged for that.

Online communication is not as rich as face to face communication, it avoids body language, tone, postures and facial expressions all of which are very crucial for proper interpersonal communication. Therefore, managing identity is simpler in the digital world, it gives us more control and takes away the pressure.

I find it hard to communicate face to face, to avoid the awkwardness and stammering I prefer emails and text messages. It gives me time to process the information without the burden for immediate response. I can cover up the parts of my personality (nervousness and anxiousness) which is visible during direct conversation. Identity management might not be morally correct, but not all parts of me is presentable and accepted by the society. We hide ourselves to blend it. To sum up, I see and perform identity management in my everyday life and it in an absolute necessity. It is an art of reshaping thoughts and action to accommodate one another. We are not always aware of managing our identities, we do it both consciously and unconsciously.

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