A friend of mine told me that her daughter is socially transitioning to be her son, which set me thinking about identity.
We all try on identities in our teens. It’s a natural part of growing up. I tried on religions, sexual identities, and many other ways of thinking of myself as a social being in the world. In the end, the one identity that stuck was vegetarianism, an ethical practice I adopted in my early teens as a response to world hunger and resource scarcity in the world. It remains my ethical center and my core identity even today.
This probably seems like small beans to people trying to figure out their gender, but I think it derives from the same place, a need to understand who we are and how to live a good life. It is part of waking up to the world.
We go through several great awakenings and many smaller ones as we move through time. Some are as momentous as discovering a new religion, a better ethic, or a different gender or sexual identity. Some are quieter.
This carries through to fiction as well. Our characters stand on the liminal boundary of who they are. Once they cross the no man’s land of self-truth, their self-identity changes. Even if they go back to who they were, they are not truly the same.
This last year has been a year of trauma and change for all of us. Times like this force internal changes, just as heat turns bread dough into bread. Sometime in 2021 we will be removed from the oven. I look forward to seeing who we have become.
I hope for peace and health to all my friends. Merry Christmas to those celebrating it. May you find the self you are looking for in the upcoming year.
Be well, friends!