When you try and describe yourself, what is the first word that you think of? Mine is creative. But is that my identity? I think that identity is a tricky concept. We expect that it can be simplified in just a few words, but in reality, I think that there is so much more to it that we often ignore.

No matter what word you use to describe yourself, it never quite seems to capture you perfectly. Sure, there are lots of words that might fit your personality, but it only seems to capture one part of you. Sure, I may be creative, but that's only one aspect of me. Maybe one word seems to fit your personality most of the time, but another seems to be a stronger trait than the other. The thing about words is that they fail to describe something as complex as an identity.

How can you be sure of your own identity if you don't even have the words to dictate it? Words fail to describe something as complex as an identity.

An example of using words to describe identity is present in fashion and capturing personal style. People might describe their fashion style as "trendy" or "hipster" or "preppy". But what happens when you shift styles or you deviate from that trend? Does that make you any less "trendy" or "hipster" or "preppy"? Using just a few words to describe your identity tends to put you in a box, describing that this is who you are and nothing else. It's like a limit on who you can be. 

So if using words to describe yourself limits who you can be, then why are we rushing to try and define ourselves?  

Whether it's the Myers Briggs personality test or a Buzzfeed "Everyone Has A Type Of Pizza That Suits Their Personality – What's Yours?" quiz, there's something about an answer regarding who you are that is so compelling. We do it on a daily basis, trying to look for the right words to capture ourselves. Maybe the answer is that you're "pepperoni pizza" because you're well-liked and classic. The fact is that there are so many people that are drawn to these types of quizzes.

The popularity of these quizzes suggest that it's perfectly normal to be searching for your identity and not to quite have one. You're not alone in that.

Although these methods of forming an answer (personality quizzes, etc.) to sum up your personality don't really offer any tangible benefit, whenever the result seems to ring true, I always have a sense of satisfaction with it, like I feel understood. It's like the quiz writes out an identity for you, one that you're content with having since it seems to be truth.

I think that the reason that we are trying so hard to define ourselves is because it feels nice to be understood. According to Psychology Today, "'feeling understood activate[s] neural regions previously associated with reward and social connection'", therefore making "individuals feel valued, respected and validated.

Read more: Psychology Today - Feeling Understood: Even More Important than Feeling Loved?

Being unsure of your identity is natural, suggested by the complexity of putting an identity into words and the overwhelming number of people also searching for answers. However, the importance of being understood can be a way that you can come to terms with your identity without knowing exactly what it is.

While you may not have the validation of being able to translate who you are into words, you can successfully translate it to other people in many different ways. Whether it's through finding common passions, sharing experiences and stories, or telling people that you're like Blair from Gossip Girl because of you share determination and a love for fashion, being able to express the kind of person you are to other people can allow you to feel understood.

If you're not sure of your identity, you can still translate it to other people without ever having to explicitly define it. 

Although in job interviews and Tinder bios you might be asked to sum up who you are in just a few sentences, the only true way to find your identity just might be through communicating your own personality to others and having them understand who you are. While they may not be able to do the same and put your identity into a few words, there's an internal feeling of "I know who _____ is" that you can have when you connect with someone which is as close as I think we can get to really understanding an identity.

So why is it okay to not be sure of your identity? Your identity is always changing and it's much too complex to express in just a few words. While you may be striving to define it, the best way that you can come to terms with the certainty of an identity might just be through sharing moments with others and working on your own passions and goals in order for you to really get a gut feeling of who you are.

You might never know how to explicitly express that in words, but you can always express it to others in moments when you need to. And that just might have to be enough.

Why It's Okay to Not Be Sure of Your Identity

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