Is the identity you live your life with, relevant to you now as you walk forwards?
Last time I wrote to you about influence, your relationship with it and how you can consciously curate positive influence in your life as long as you have 'awareness'. I hope you enjoyed the prompts and if you forgot to take yourself through them, consider this your reminder!
I'm about to share a story of mine. It's the identity crisis I was unaware of that came and smacked me square in the face at the beginning of June. In this particular story I am talking about belonging and what happens both subconsciously and consciously as we grow and make decisions on how or what it takes to belong and be loved.
I have shared an IGTV here that explains some of my experience and the relation to chronic migraines I have had for most of my life until this year. A personal experience and example of how emotional trauma can store itself in the physical body.
Below is my story on what I have uncovered and discovered at the beginning of June –
Starting from age 3 when I was targeted for my skin colour by another child, I began to learn and understand that my skin colour wasn't a good thing to have. If I wanted to belong and be loved in the world outside my home, my skin was going to make it hard for me. I experienced many other incidents that ultimately led me to build my identity out of safety and a desire to protect myself from ridicule, humiliation, embarrassment, isolation and anger from others.
In my video I shared that I believe there is division and 'racism' within every culture and ultimately it feels driven by a conditioned sense of needing to be better than another, essentially to feel better about ourselves. On the reverse end of that is seeing how others are treated when they don't fit in, when they don't 'belong' when it appears that they aren't loved by anyone. Have a think about how your community or society treat those individuals? By nature, we come to accept this as normal and subconsciously know we do not want to be one of those people that is essentially outcast. We seem to be collectively waking up to the fact that this is not actually 'normal' and to accept the need for active change and education.
Growing up in Australia, both my mum and dad had their own stories with 'racism' and subconsciously encouraged us to do whatever we needed to stay in line, to not draw attention to ourselves. To abide by the rules and fit in completely so as not to be singled out. Unfortunately we never had any specific conversations around racism so as a child, you draw your own conclusions from what you see happening out in the world.
The conclusion I drew at a young age that continued to be reinforced from my experiences in the world outside my home as I got older was to fit in and not stand out, I needed to be as 'white' as possible. These are just some of the ways in which this translated for me into my behaviour –
Completely rejecting and being embarrassed about my cultural background of India on my mother's side and Hong Kong on my dad's.
Purposely avoiding the sun always as my skin darkened so quickly which also meant avoiding the beach as it was my worst nightmare.
Avoiding wearing certain colours as I thought they made my skin look darker.
Refusing to ever travel to India and having to be bribed to go to Hong Kong.
I hated anyone looking at me, so would do ANYTHING to get out of giving speeches at school, mostly taking myself to sick bay or staying home when I was due to give a presentation.
Getting really angry whenever I would be asked 'where are you really from?' when I said I was Australian.
Dyed my hair crazy colours and got an eyebrow piercing as a teenager because these were things greatly rejected by the asian culture and looked down upon.
Not speaking up when something offensive was said about other cultures in a room full of white people and everyone looking at me as they immediately felt awkward (I was usually bright red and trying to disappear into the floor).
Getting really mad at anyone who called me asian or on occasion 'oriental'.
This is a small window into certain behaviours I went through, to give you an idea of how an identity formed and shaped by our outside world can go both ways and impact us all entirely differently. My particular experience might not be something you can relate to but have a think about what experiences as a child confirmed to you that you would be accepted/belong/be loved more easily if you behaved in a certain way. Did you pretend to live somewhere elsesoas not to be considered 'poor'? Or maybe you learned that when you made jokes and made people laugh you had more friends?
For most of us, when we take time to assess where we are, the identity we have carried around with us all our lives may no longer fit. You might have outgrown it. It might not feel good as we walk into our future to carry pieces of our past identities that no longer serve us. I want to invite you to take this opportunity for self curiosity around your own identity right now using the prompts below.
If we assume your identity defines you, then ask yourself - 'what is my identity'?
What do you know to be true about yourself?
What are you proud of about yourself?
What do you hide behind for safety? (Maybe you make jokes to distract attention or you make fun of yourself trying to beat others to it so you claim and identify with being the comedian in your group. Maybe you keep your opinions to yourself because 'nice' people don't cause arguments and being nice is important to how you see yourself, your identity depends on it.)
What do you not express to protect yourself from potential ridicule or being outcast?
What praise were you given as a child that indicated to you, you could receive more love for doing this thing over and over? Sport, dance, singing, art, comedy, being pretty?
What parts of your identity feel like you?
What parts of your identity don't feel like you?
What do you want to identify with?
In your dream reality, how do you see your identity informing your behaviours?
For me –
As always with new experiences, come new learnings. I know at age 37 I'm done with pretending and hoping to be white, to have a transformation that suddenly proves me worthy of belonging and being loved. I can't possibly hope for my 4 year old daughter Willow to love or accept herself if I can't do that for myself emotionally, physically, energetically and spiritually. Whole body, embodied. This starts at such a young age, sadly we found out Willow had her own encounter at kinder already being told by a 3yo that she wasn't allowed in their house because her skin wasn't white. This translated to her yelling that she hated her skin and nothing would shift her opinion that day. I was shocked because I just hadn't thought it would ever be an issue when in fact I was too busy hiding from my own hurt and shadow with a false identity.
Everything says something. How we treat others with our actions or inaction and speak about others or stay silent, children pick it all up and then mirror this out in the world. I bet many of you still carry hurt from childhood incidents that cut deep and birthed limiting beliefs that have affected your self worth and how you carry yourself in social settings.
Big pieces of our past can sit with us until we are ready to face and transform them. I began my 'inner work' of shedding by taking myself through the process below in 'Relationship to Self' to reset and refresh my current identity as I want it to fit me now.
I know that together as we face discomfort time and time again, we will face our shadows, face our fear of the unknown and take action to see what we have previously turned away from. We have a beautiful opportunity for transformation right now and the world changes when you go inwards. As always, please reach out if this prompts any lightbulb moments of discovery for you, I love hearing from you x