One’s True Identity

By Gena Smith

Discovering who we are is a very important developmental milestone. Our self-identity is created by our internal character, personality and appearance. By knowing ourselves, we can create inner-peace and a successful life for ourselves. Everyone views success differently. Some people view success through religious believes or being in a position of authority. Others view success as having a family and a home. Though everyone views success differently, we all want to be successful in the way we view it. Our self-identity is also important in relationships because to be able to love and learn about other people in our lives, we must first learn and love ourselves. Our self-identity is very important; therefore, we should learn how the negative influences deter us from being at peace with ourselves, while also learning how we can be at peace with our selves.

Advertisers are attempting to mold us to a standard that will benefit the sale of their advertised product. At a very young age we start to be overcome with messages from the media. Yet many people do not realize that the advertisements are sending us messages other than what to purchase. Advertisers tell us through images that women should be passive and silent. By this example, we can see how these messages would create an internal conflict in a woman that is flamboyant and outspoken. Americans of all ages, races and genders are forming a low self-esteem, and obsession with appearances from an earlier and earlier age. This obsession, and low-self esteem was partly created by the joining of our insecurities and the media.

Some people have body images that are unbalanced and distorted. Our self-perception can have significant consequences like low self-esteem, depression, addiction or eating disorders. Unrealistic body fantasies have become real life goals for a lot of people, which inevitably causes a body image problem. Certainly a better body image will also help smoothen ones journey to self-understanding.

I was twelve when my developing sense of self was harshly interrupted by anorexia. The insecurities of my body, personality and my potential were all rudely empowered by beauty magazines and my social environment. I given up the quest for fulfillment and decided it was much smarter to ignore my body and its needs because of its vulnerability. Writing helped me through this struggle; however advertisement is aided in my belief that dieting could make me into the Medias standard of a perfect woman.

Young people face the additional challenge of peer-pressure complicating their journey to self-understanding. Peer pressure can be defined as a motivation to look and act in a particular way, yet pays off through acceptance. Most teens have a sense of commitment to their friends. Because of this sense of commitment and their desire for acceptance, they often choose to change themselves. Pre-teens and teenagers, disown the parts of their personality, and self-expression which are not acceptable to others and send thus their shadow is often created. The parts of ourselves we send away because of our desire for acceptance, do not go away. These parts form a shadow, which we must work with at a later time in our lives. Adolescents feel the need to measure themselves up to the accomplishments of others, which also causes pressure. Girls are socialized into believing that they must have unrealistic proportions for acceptance. Boys are socialized into believing that if they want to be a man, then they must remain tough. This kind of constant pressure is enough to make anyone feel vulnerable and not accept parts of their being.

Parents have a strong impact on self-identity because of the messages they send to their children. For example, some children grow up in a family of doctors; therefore, they feel to be praised and accepted as their family, they must also be in the medical field. In the same way often boys are not allowed to play contact sports because of the physical risks. Children are unable to excel in life because of their families influences to eliminate risks and to keep their children from straying too far from their believe system, no matter how limiting to the child. Others grow up without a foundation at all for their self-identity to flourish.

It is important to learn about the negative influences that surround our developing sense of self. It remains equally as important as contributing to the solutions that will protect our younger generation and ourselves. Everyday we have opportunities to build bridges to a successful future and to be at peace with ourselves. First, we can limit our amount of television viewing and beauty magazine purchasing until we have a greater amount of media literacy and self-knowledge. We can check books out at our local library about the media and developing our self-understanding. We can take a course on challenging images at our local community college.

Now that we know the Medias effects are more powerful because of our insecurities, we need to take time to understand ourselves more thoroughly. Through journaling and meditation, we can learn more about ourselves-particularly our weaknesses and insecurities. After we obtain some media literacy and self-understanding, we should teach our children how to deconstruct the messages in our environment and those which are produced by the media. While we are at home with our families, we can talk about the importance of diversity in the world. When we learn the importance, respect for different sizes, colors and shapes will follow. We should all learn how to be less critical and judgmental, and sometimes this may require working with those parts of ourselves, which we have sometimes unknowingly stored away because of un-acceptance. If enough people obtain inner-peace, we will then have world peace. If we strive for all of these actions in unity, we will find a successful life, and our true self-identity, which will always be better that any identity molded to fit a false ideal.


Gena Smith is the author of What Lies Beneath, a book of poetry and inspirational reminders. One’s inner-voice is compromised when not allowed to speak. One’s true intuition shines forth by maintaining a connection with self and allowing one to experience one’s feelings. Gena Smith inspires readers through her personal journey with poems and collected thoughts, providing a voice of enlightenment, hope, and inspiration, encouraging readers to connect with their own inner-voice.





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