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The Search For Identity

Updated: Nov 5, 2018

By Lindsey T. H. Jackson

I would not describe myself as a hateful person, but I am prone to anger when I feel that I cannot do or say enough - which is exactly how I felt this weekend after learning about the attack on my home community-. I also twist my hair a lot when I am deep in thought. If you ask me to list my skin color I will write "cinnamon". And if you ask me where I am from, I will tell you with warm affection that I am from Pittsburgh...

In fact, I went to school just down the street from the Tree Of Life synagogue. There is a Jewish deli almost adjacent to the synagogue that as a child I used to frequent during lunch break for the biggest, tastiest, Kosher pickles you can imagine.

Lately I have become very intrigued with the concept of identity.

i·den·ti·ty /ˌīˈden(t)ədē/ noun

  1. the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

  2. a close similarity or affinity.

For example, a lot of my identity is tied up in my childhood memories of Pittsburgh. Always the type of people to say "hello" when walking by, or to go out of their way to help someone in need, Pittsburgh was a great place to grow up. And yet, as I entered into adolescence I felt grossly out of place there. So much so that I left for College at the age of fifteen and never moved back.

All over the world men and women are fighting for political gain by harnessing the tactics of "identity politics", a concept which I have never understood because, quite simply, I've never understood how someone arrived at a clear idea of their identity. I have struggled to determine mine for years!

The bold declarations that I made at the top of this mind-dump are some of the things I have come to know and understand about myself, but there is still so much I am still trying to figure out. (I am reminded of the movie Runaway Bride, where Julia Roberts' character has to figure out what types of eggs she likes to eat) But what I DO KNOW with each passing year, is that the key to unlocking my identity is within, not without.

And that is scary...

Figuring out who I am, or sometimes I start with who I am not, means stepping outside of the easily ticked boxes of ethnicity, gender, country, religion, career, relationship status, and doing the painfully-slow work of learning to listen to my gut.

Here are three great pieces from Hezalia that explore identity through various lenses. I have always found it helpful to listen to other's stories to help guide and inform my own journey.

3 Beautiful Stories About The Search For Identity:

1) In this gripping article, Mental Health In The LGBT Community, writer Alexis Pivnicny explores what it means to identify as LGBT in 2018. And delivers some hard-hitting facts on how we as a society are failing to create safe spaces for diversity across all walks of life.

2) In her piece, What Are You?, writer Jay Alba, shares her experiences of growing up Filipino in a counrty that tries to lump all Asians into one category. I could relate so much to that feeling of being called out publicly as "the other."

3) What does a mother do when her young son is being told he does quite fit the mold? In this story from one of our community, When Traditional Schooling Fails, mother, artist , and unschooler Mary Ann Kuchera) teaches us all how to build a home and education for our children that celebrates diversity. As a mother-of-two I have started applying a lot of themes here even within my children's traditional school environment.

Take some time for you today.

I remain yours, as ever,

Lindsey T. H. Jackson Founder & CEO, Hezalia

Lindsey T. H. Jackson is an Enneagram Practitioner, Leadership Coach, Storyteller and Entrepreneur.


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