How do you define who you are? What is it that makes up your identity? I’ve been struggling with this alot lately. I’ve been struggling with the concept of identity lately.
I lead a pretty nomadic life for the first 10 years of my life, living in 3 provinces and 2 territories, and 7 different cities across western Canada.
I spent my formative years in Yellowknife. I finished elementary school up there, and continued on to graduation before moving again. So I know what cold is, I know what it is like to watch the northern lights every night all winter, and to snowmobile to school, and for the sun to go down at 3 and rise at 10. I know what it is like to go fishing at 3am with the sun just below the horizon, and what it is like to be carried away by giant mosquitos. But I left after I graduated and I haven’t gone back; to visit or otherwise. I also wasn’t born up there. Over half of my graduating class moved back up there when they finished University or otherwise. How can I define myself as something that they are?
My mom is from a rural Mennonite background. A family of 15 kids, grew up on a farm in small town southern Manitoba and spoke low german. I can resonate with these people, but it is not me. I picked up a lot of the customs and ideas and such from my mom just by virtue of growing up with her as my mom, but being back here again…it’s just not me. It has that sense of familiarity, but while I used to say I’m Mennonite, I can’t do that anymore. These people out here are Mennonite, they know what that means. I don’t think I really do.
My dad grew up pretty blue-collar nomadic, and that part sits really well with me. Except that I’m now in a white collar job, associate with white collar people and married an educated woman who is a chiropractor. When I was growing up, I wanted to be just like my dad. He worked in the mines, and had perma-dirty hands. They were big, and rough and had permanently grease stained hands. He carried a big aluminum lunch kit that was covered in union stickers and worked shift work. This is what I wanted to be, and even was for a little while until I got tired of having my hands dirty all the time because I’m a bit of a priss. So now I feel like I can’t even call myself bluecollar anymore. I don’t want to be this white collar dude, it doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like my identity.
I know many other things make up ones identity, but these are the things that I get hung up on.
I define myself as a husband, a Christian, a bass player, an introvert, a computer geek (who sucks at computer games but loves them anyway, and who has a techy job but is totally not nerdy enough), and a pastor-wannabe. I am patient, and loving, and blunt, and sometimes lacking tact, and loyal, and stubborn (but learning to pick my battles), and quiet. I tell myself I don’t care what people think, but I really do. I love the outdoors and wish I spent more time out there. I spend a lot of time wishing I could be a better person, and thinking of ways to improve myself but being too lazy to act on alot of it.
I also have a bit of a martyr complex, but we won’t get into that right now.
So I can define myself with all of those things, but it’s the more cultural stuff that I get hung up on, yet find really important. I am not a patriotic person by any stretch of the imagination and take no pride in being Canadian. My parents have a mix of countries that their ancestors come from, namely Prussia, but I can’t go around having Prussian pride since it doesn’t really exist anymore. I just wish I had that cultural pride that people with a specific ethnic background have. Like the Irish, or the Scottish, or what-have-you. I don’t know why I find that to be so important, and maybe I need to just get over it but it seems like it should be an important part of my identity.