I am not the composite of the impressions I give other people because I listen to them, because of how I relate to them, how I interact socially, because of the job I have or where I live or who my partner is. It is interesting to hear what impression others have of me, but it is not who I am.
My identity comes from somewhere else. I am not sure where, but it's not from an external source. A series of identity crises has stripped away all of the things that seemed to make up who I was - school, work, friends etc. and as I lost each of them them, I had to redefine myself. If I am not a student, who am I? If I am not doing something I like to do - if I work only for money, who am I? If I am not a social person with a lot of friends, who am I? If I am wrongly perceived to be a person who (fill in the blank)... Is that who I am? It is who I am to that person, but should I do anything about it? Should I care? How much energy do I tie up in what other people think about me?
A friend told me a while ago that she tries to talk to people about what she is going through - about how unhappy she is about work - for instance - and the response is a general lack of comprehension because she has done some great things or that she has been an inspiration to someone. Not surprisingly, she was so frustrated by these responses. When you try to express to someone what you are going through, the last thing you want to hear is that you are not person the 'listener' thinks you are - perhaps the person they need you to be. The people who listen because they want to know who are are real gems.
It takes a lot of courage to figure out who you are and to do the things that are in harmony with your self. Those outward expressions, as they change, throw people off, upset people...sometimes enough to make them leave. Not everyone accepts change.