Monday, May 11, 2015

Self Identity And How Your Life Would Change If Key Characteristics Changed

What aspects about yourself do you take for granted and which ones would have the biggest impact on your life if it changed?  Let's look at some key ways we categorize people.

Sex - If you're male, how would your life be different if you were female?  And if you're female, if you were male? 

Race - Pick a different set of physical characteristic that we tend to call race.

Nationality - Here's a world map.  Close your eyes and let the mouse find you a new nationality.

Map from   Click to enlarge and focus
Religion - Here's a list of 79 spiritual options.  Note Christianity is lumped pretty much into one category

Job/Profession - Here's a list of 1183 job titles.  Or no job at all.  Have fun.

Health Status -  This would be some sort of identified illness or physical characteristic from healthy and fit  to some labeled condition that identifies you as not completely healthy and fit.  Names of diseases and/or loss of abilities that most people take for granted.  I'll include mental illnesses here too.  You don't need a list of things that could go wrong.  For some, the change might just be moving to healthy. 

Sexuality -  Who are you sexually attracted to?  What things turn you on? 

Educational Status - How much schooling do you have?  Pick something several levels different from yours. 

Economic Status -  From homeless to billionaire.  This could also include what economic class you were born into, not just where you ended up. 

Questions to ask yourself and others:

  • So, which of these are most significant to your self identity and are they different from what others think are important about you? 
  • How would suddenly becoming a different economic class, sexuality, gender, health status most affect your life and your self identity?  And how others see you?  
  • Which things are obvious to others when you walk down the street, which are not?
  • Which of these changes would be difficult because of your own self identity and which because of how others expect you to be?  
  • Which are easier and which harder to change?

I'm going somewhere with this, but I'd like to let folks play with these questions first. I'll pick up this theme in a future post.  In the meantime, ponder the questions when you're in bed and can't sleep.  Talk to your family and house mates about them.  Use them as ice-breakers at a party or reception or waiting at the post office or the airport. 

Be honest with yourself.  Try on a few identities and imagine going about your daily routine that way.  How would things be different?  Why? Would some make your life better and others worse?  Which ones? 

Is this hard?  Why?  

Did I miss one of your important identifiers? 


  1. Steve, one of the universal dividers isn't on your list: Age.

    Again and again, I feel how this artifact shapes much of how relationships are welcomed and nurtured (or not); how it can decide the mortgage or credit offer; in being pre-walking to being post-walking.

    Of course how we treat people is influenced by culture, but it is rooted in the age of an individual and group. The issues, the challenges, even the quality we call 'wisdom' is conditioned by aging. At the very least, we accept life experience is gained by one's time on earth, for good and bad.

    So this is my addition to our list: it's another example of how we are changed by what we are. I'll give it a think.

  2. Thanks, Jacob. An interesting addition. It's one quality that everyone has the chance to experience various qualities of if they are lucky. And I know I've heard my 'older' friends say they wouldn't want to go back to, say, 23. But definitely it's a factor that people can see and that affects how one is treated. Thanks.


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