Your identity rarely reveals itself by just passively waiting to be discovered in a random sweep of awareness. Instead you actively discover your identity through your intentions and actions. Depending on our small talk skills and social etiquette, one of the first questions we want to ask when we meet someone new is ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What do you do?’ We identify each other by our actions and we are known by our deeds. And the more honest and heartfelt our actions are, the more intensely our identities are illuminated.
However, like the symbols that we use to represent meaning, our intentions and identities are contextual. We show up in different identities and with different intentions depending on what context we might find ourselves in. One moment we have to show up as a gimlet-eyed chief executive, all ruthless and unyielding, and then in the next moment we have to be a nurturing parent, full of compassion and love. Every individual one of us sustains a unique family of our own contextual identities.
From a rational perspective, this makes no sense at all, and so we usually try to ignore our multiple identities. But then they begin to appear in our dreams at night to express their identities there. And in our waking lives, we shine our ignored identities on to others. People who we are attracted to are often reflecting positive qualities that we possess ourselves but are consciously unaware of. Others who we dislike or vilify usually reflect behaviours that we unconsciously exhibit ourselves, but that our rational selves will not allow us to consciously own.
We are also unconsciously aware that we reflect the identities of other people, and we often hide our real identities behind masks to appear as powerful and beautiful as possible to others. This often may seem to be an overt strategy to exert more influence over others. But usually we are indirectly trying to see our own beauty in the reflection of our reflection, rather than having the courage to own it directly.
The possibility that we have an unspoken inner beauty often scares us. That’s why we try to hide it, usually by attempting to conform to some norm of conventional beauty. But that’s what we are looking for when we illuminate our awareness with our intentions. We are trying to experience our own beauty in meaningful intention and identity. We discover who we are by what we do. So to become who you want to be, do what you want to do. Not what you think you should do so you can keep hiding behind a mask. Step out from behind your mask and face up to your own beauty. The more beautiful work that you do, the more that you will illuminate your own inner beauty. And the more beautiful that you are on the inside, the more beautiful you will be on the outside.