There is a pretty clear notion of national identity, sexual identity, professional identity, and similar layers of identity that are tied to family, genetic pool, upbringing, knowledge, skills and preferences.
At the same time as every person seems to have a core -a clear feeling of self, simultaneously with an impression that our personal identities aren’t permanent, but rather fluid or transformative creatures.
Both the permanent core and the transformative features seem to have their logic and they’re not mutually exclusive as ways to think about personal identity.
As adults, we sometimes have an awkward relation to transforming personalities as if change was a betrayal of a matured identity. Probably, we are doing ourselves disservice by this interpretation of the identity as something permanent. In fact, I would argue that the core is the measurement tool that all possible transformations are held up against, thus interdependent. But it’s a thin line between stagnant and continuous –the latter being more preferable to the prior- as it is between dynamic and confused. Most of us negotiate these intuitively, but by recalling some of our language’s common phrases, a common struggle to come to terms with the balance unearths:
“I can’t explain it, he has just really changed”
“When I met her 20 years later, she was surprisingly exactly the same”
“They simply grew apart”
“I never stopped feeling 25”
So lets think about the change that we categorically accept as positive development: As children we probably change the most as we develop motor, linguistic and cognitive skills. Later, there are lifestyle choices including education, career path, leisure activities as well as things that seem less predictable like whether we can keep your selves out of trouble and to which degree we stay on the straight and narrow.
This continuous development is a symphony of circumstance and choice, things that we fight for and things that just happen to us. I think that our core is one framework of how we navigate between those, consisting importantly of memory and self perception and we walk through life altering our personal narrative on the go, adding to, amending, scrapping pieces, angling or presenting what we perceive as our identity and how we’d want to be perceived.
So what the heck is identity?
It might be my life’s work to try to answer that question.
Fashion, garments and how we dress is one way of investigating the identity –and it is the subject matter that I understand the best as a key to identity, emersion and change. It is also both a motor and expressionist tool -and it is the design decision that all of us make every day. Even if some say, “I only wear what was at the top of in the drawer”. That’s a statement, but who put it there? If someone decides to always let someone else make that decision of what to wear, that is also a decision. This is not a path that many of us choose, instead most take some degree of pleasure in taking care of their appearances –be it grooming, shopping, exercising, shopping, dressing etc. You see it all in fashion!