Understanding My Sense Of Identity

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Any sixteen year olds struggle to know themselves, but at least they can say they know every uncle, cousin, second cousin on both sides of their family tree. Even though I’m adopted, I thought I did too. It was a typical summer morning, and my brother and I were getting ready for work. My parents were having their first cup of coffee when my dad announced, “Family meeting. It’s about your Grandma Kathy.” My Grandma had passed away years ago, so how could it be about her? Everything after that was a blur… When my Grandma was seventeen (before she met my Grandfather) she had a baby, named Kathleen, who she put up for adoption. Now, as an adult, Kathleen reached out to my family, asking if we wanted to meet her. My father, having an outgoing and positive personality, he was enthusiastic and decided he did want to meet her, and so did I. Surprisingly, it turns out she’s a teacher at my school!

When we first met it was strange, sitting down with a teacher and talking about my grandma. But the feeling immediately went away as soon as we started to talk. She talked about my Grandma’s smile, her laugh and the great way she told stories about her life and her family, even mentioning my name a lot. One of the conversations that has stayed with me was about the feelings we shared about being adopted. One in particular, the need to find our own identity. Growing up, neither of us had a parent who could say, “You get that from your mother, ” etc. We both felt bewildered and out of place in science class when the topic of genes and hair color led us to wonder who we got our brown hair from. I’ve realized from this experience that genetics has such a small part in making up who you are, but it is the people who surround you that influence your development and sense of self. Hearing stories and memories about the side of my Grandma that Kathleen had experienced helped me see that it was a blessing for her to have a relationship with her birth mother, but at the same time I learned that not having a relationship with my birth parents does not prevent me from finding my own identity and true self because I am a firm believer that we find what we are looking for in the most unlikely places, in my case, with the most unlikely person.

According to John Locke’s theory of psychological continuity of personal identity, “personal identity is a matter of psychological continuity. ” He considered personal identity (or the self) to be founded on consciousness (i. e. memory), and not on the substance of either the soul or the body. I believe that the soul and body he is speaking of is the genetic makeup that society so forcefully tries to judge, and the consciousness is the experience we endure that makes us complete and who we are. For example, John Locke’s nature versus nurture theory and how we have no innate ideas; our minds are blank slates, upon which experience writes. Nurture is everything, nature nothing. I’ve realized that there’s no rush in finding what makes up my inner self because I was lucky enough to have a family that gave me at least a starting point where the finish line is still to be determined.

Your sense of identity has to do with who you think you are and how you perceive yourself. Self-esteem is how you value yourself. So realistically, identity has everything to do with your sense of self-worth and that’s something everyone adopted or not has to find on their own.

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