“Please. Tell me about how you experience a sense of self. I’m not talking about self-esteem, although of course it’s inseparable. I’m talking about identity. Who are you. Do you know? I’m not talking about labels and flags either like ethnicity or sexual orientation. I’m not talking about any of that. Do you feel integrated like you know your identity and it is solidified and linear?”
I think that I am all my labels – labels + what each one means at any given moment. So I am:
Each of the above – labels – touch on every aspect of who I am. Each label informs my core and shape how I interact with myself, others and the world at large. I cannot separate out any of them from ‘ME’.
If we paraphrase Descartes’ *I Think Therefore I Am* I would say “I relate therefore I am”.
I define who I am in relation to what is in front of me, what has my mental, emotional and physical attention at any given moment.
This also means that I am a bunch of things I might not readily find pleasant.
But it also means that I am a bunch of things that I appreciate about myself.
Labels are not useful if they are shaped in stereotypes and by others.
They are only useful as tools for me to understand what make up my inner structure, what makes me ME.
Each of those labels has to be investigated emotionally and intellectually as they appear in my life, and they have been – every now and then some BIG label comes along – Like Autistic. Part of investigating that label entailed looking at external labels (from the medical society, other autistics, history etc) and figure out which ones fit me. That took time. There were so many bits and pieces to look at and either shape till they fit or discard because they did not fit.