Dear Friend,

A new season is upon us, one that hopefully brings with it the motivation to write… Although, I’m here writing as we speak so perhaps what we should hope for is the energy to write on a regular basis. With this hope to begin posting more often, I’m also starting a new series on Identity. Throughout my journey this past semester, the importance of people’s identity was essential to understanding their priorities, their outlook on life, everything. I was repeatedly reminded that how we understand ourselves changes the way we live and relate to others… so I’m going to be exploring my own identity, and how it impacts my life today.

When I think about “Identity” I immediately think of labels… labels given to me by other people (as well as by myself) about my skills, personality, and/or other traits. But I also think identity is more than that. Identity is about history, relationships, and experiences. So I hope I’ll touch on both of these aspects.

Personally, I label myself all the time. I eat up those ridiculous quizzes you find in the nooks and crannies of the internet and magazines like nobody’s business… seriously, I could do them for hours. I’m not the only one either… Why do you think they exist? Popularity. Anyways, the supply and demand of silly quizzes wasn’t the point here… Let’s get back to labelling. I LOVE the Myers-Briggs typology and think it does a better job of categorizing than other personality type groupings I’ve seen. (I’m an INFJ) and have taken the test multiple times from a variety of places. I have gotten the same result almost every time I took the test (the only time it was different was on Cross-cultural, but I just took it again and I have returned to INFJ). I love the idea of Love Languages (my main Love Language is Touch)… and really any type of label that helps me better understand how I think about things and relate to others.

But sometimes the labels I give myself don’t help me improve my self-understanding or relationships with others. In fact, there are many labels I’ve subconsciously given myself over the years that have only hampered relationships and damaged my self-esteem. Why do I…why do WE do this? Because let’s be honest, we all do it… I spent years trying to be “better,” “prettier,” or “funnier” (etc.) when what I really should have been doing is recognising the skills I have, seeing the beauty that inherently resides in my body, laughing at my own jokes, enjoying the experience of just being ME… something I’ve only recently started doing and that no one else in the entire universe will ever have the chance of doing. If you’ve been reading this blog over the almost 4 years since I started it (has it been that long already?) you may have picked up on this change… perhaps, perhaps not. I’ll be honest, I am much more likely to write when I feel inspired or empowered than when I feel discouraged or depressed… but that’s to be expected. I will say, that over the last four years, I’ve started embracing me.

Let’s be clear here, sometimes, I fail at this miserably. There are days when I don’t feel “good enough.” I often struggle to ignore the little voice in the back of my head that says “they’re laughing at YOU…” even when I know they aren’t. I find it hard to accept complements, even when I know they’re sincere and instinctively brush them off as if I am undeserving. But I also find it easier to look in the mirror these days. To share tastes and interests that others might find weird or strange. To sing in front of other people (this really depends on the setting though.) I’m relearning something I knew instinctively as a child, and that is how to love myself.

Anywhoo, all of this is to say, I am beginning a series (of undetermined length) about identity… or the bits and pieces that are essential to understanding my identity, and how I see myself. In doing this, you (if you keep reading these crazy things) will probably get to know me a little bit better, and who knows you might even learn something about yourself in the process. Possible topics include:

  • Faith
  • Family and Friends
  • Hobbies
  • Body Image
  • “Home”
  • Adulthood
  • and who knows what else might show up

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo