how do you experience a sense of self?

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A friend of mine ask a very important question.
“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:

Autistic

Artist

Writer

Husband

Cat Dad

Man

Boy

Bisexual

Trans-man

Jewish

Danish

Tri-lingual

Theologian

Philosopher

Poet
Seeker

Theist

Fat

and
so on.
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.

Stubborn

Arrogant

Prejudiced

Angry

Depressed

But it also means that I am a bunch of things that I appreciate about myself.

Kind

Generous

Intelligent

Caring

Talented

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.

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