Our chat with Leah in Episode 3 was a wonderful discussion about identity and how our interpretations of our own identity can change over time. We also stressed that it is okay to still be shaping your identity at any age.
As LGBTQ+ individuals, the understanding of our own identity can be difficult at times. Some of us grew up in environments that were unaccepting of parts of ourselves that we can’t change (and often wouldn’t even if we could). This can make it difficult to express ourselves and grow naturally into the people we were meant to be on this Earth.
Still, we all hold ideas and beliefs that can shape our happiness around our identity. Circling back, when the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland asks, “Who Are You?” Alice responds, “Well I hardly know sir, I’ve changed so much since this morning.”
Let's take a moment to talk about what psychologists call personal constructs. These are deep-seated core beliefs that shape how we perceive and accept our own identity. For instance, if every member of your family served in the military, you may develop the strong idea that being in the military is vital to your existence. You may feel a sense of failure if you were unable to serve in the military.
Kurtis shared that one of his personal constructs was based around achievement. He made straight As as a kid, and grades came easy to him, so I was utterly devastated the first time he got a B on a report card. Why? Because he thought grades equated to being smart. Within this frame of mind, that B affected his view of his own intelligence. While he may find this event less threatening to his self image today, looking back on it now demonstrates how we can start developing these personal constructs even in our youth.
Think about one core belief or construct that shapes your identity. How do they serve important components of your life? Weigh the pros and cons. Does this personal construct bring you joy, or does it stress you out? Would you feel better if you were able to express that construct openly, or is it something you feel shameful about?
It can be difficult to identify person constructs—they’re a bit like a bad smell your nose gets used to over time. You may find it helpful to ask others what they see as potential personal constructs you have created. Invite your friends in to help you Febreeze and freshen up your happiness, in order to accept your true self, which is where we find ultimate happiness.
If a personal construct is not serving your happiness or bringing you a more compassionate understanding of your own identity, work to reshape that idea piece by piece. Talking with a professional may help you do that.
So to wrap it up: If you aren’t currently sure where you fall in the LGBTQ+ alphabet of identifiers, that’s okay, just as as it is okay to redevelop the personal constructs that hurt your acceptance of yourself. Who are you, really? Whoever that is, we love you over here at Weathering Rainbows and we wish you the best on your personal journey of self discovery.