Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One Identity to Rule Them All

Today's post is brought to you by my lunch break. Usually I just work through my lunch, but today inspiration hit right as I was about to microwave my leftovers. 

Body Image Warrior Week, which coincided with National Eating Disorders Awareness week and emphasized learning to love your body and your whole self, sparked some recent ruminations about my identity. I don't normally think a lot about who I am. Normally, I'm too busy to worry about such things. Alternatively, I could take a more zen approach and say that I am so engrossed in the flow of my life that I just 'be.' It isn't a bad, I think I just take for granted that I am me. 

But I started thinking about my identity. If you ask me to describe myself, I'd probably tell you that I am a tall glutard (...actually, I'm Dr. Tall Glutard!). I currently live somewhere where I am taller than the typical local ladies, hence the tall. However, more saliently to myself, I am someone who is gluten-intolerant. This identity is often primed because (1) I have to feed myself (duh) and (2) so much of my social interaction revolves around food (snacks at meetings, dinner with friends). This sets me apart from most people I know and gives me an instant bond with others with my food sensitivity. It is the identity that comes up most often when I am interacting with the world. 

However, I realized that my glutard identity has overwhelmed my other identities. I don't think of myself as smart of funny or pretty or a hard worker or a novice painter and photographer or anything else.* Instead, my identity revolves around this one arbitrary biological fact about me. While there's nothing wrong with that, I realized that if I want people to enjoy the whole of me, I need to start attending to and presenting the rest of me as well. 

I'm not sure that this makes sense yet. I am, after all, cramming a deep philosophical blog post into a 25-min break. But what I am trying to say is that it is easy to get wrapped up in one identity to the exclusion of others. Be it gluten intolerance, a perceived flaw, a perceived strength, or anything else. Identity is complex and multifaceted, and often can interact with health in many ways. I think it is important, especially when your primary identity is something that is easily primed, to take time to nurture and share your other identities, too. Be the multidimensional person you are and don't let one thing define you to yourself or to others. I'm not just a glutard, after all. I'm Dr. Girlfriend Glutenless Goddess. :P

*I'm all of those things, and then some. And I am kick-ass at all of them, too. In short, I rule. But you already know that because you read my blog. 

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