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Thread: How do you define yourself/build your identity/ego?

  1. #1

    Default How do you define yourself/build your identity/ego?

    So, I realise this isn't exactly a perfect psychology forum, but I dont have anywhere else to ask this question.

    I recently realised I've spent a lot of my adult life trying to not let anything define me. I've avoided fads, I dont get haircuts that are "stylish", I dont wear fashionable clothes. I don't identity as part of any sub culture. Ive always been cynical about advertising and corporate manipulation of my own will, both in general and as an employee. I dont have a smartphone and have generally been a technophobe. I dont belong to any groups I could potentially be defined by. I don't buy merchandise and I dont wear labels.

    All of that sounds incredibly pretentious I know, it hasnt been a conscious decision, its just something I got in my head sometime in Highschool. Im now 26 and a uni student, and Im finding that I dont really know what makes me me. I mean, I have a few loose philosophical convictions, but Im starting to wonder if maybe its ok to give in to some of this stuff. To, yknow, buy a mug with my favourite tv show on it.

    Basically, I want to know, how do you guys define who you are? Do you think its ok or healthy to identify with certain media? Do you affiliate yourself with brands or groups/organisations? Do you find those associations mean people stereotype you? I dunno what Im asking really, this is just me expressing something I need to but dont have anyone in RL to listen.
    Last edited by MyLastWords; 21-Aug-2015 at 19:02.

  2. #2


    I just do what makes me happy. I am a Psychology Major (that said, I'm only in my second year of college).

    It is totally healthy to be part of a group it is natural for humans to want to fit it, and groups give us just that. Just like this forum does. I personally always dress nice. Suit, tie, suit jacket, etc. (I do own a company though, I did that even before I did). I find that of course people are going to stero-type me, I drive a new car, I live in a nice neighborhood, go golfing etc. People assume I am a asshole. You have to not let that bug you. I am not mean or an asshole quite the contrary. I just be myself. Also I part of a Jack White fan club, people assume I am weird slightly emo person.. I am not that either. Like what you like and don't peoples opinions sway you.

  3. #3


    I think wanting to define yourself is something one does when they're young. It starts in grade school and grows exponentially in Jr. high and high school. With college comes liberation, but only for some. When I went to college, my freshman year, there were those students who had created their identities, whether it was preppy, or some sort of variant, but then there were the exceptions. I was one of those exceptions.

    College age is one for self exploration, crossing social boundaries and creating some new ones. For me, I changed from engaging in straight relationships to gay ones. I smoked a lot of pot and binge drank. I grew my hair long and became a political activist. As chef from South Park says, "That's what college's for, boys."

    After graduation, I found employment, moved away from home, met the woman who would become my wife and together, we started our family. Things began to naturally fall into place. Job and responsibilities began to define who I would become for the remainder of my life, and I suspect this happens to most people. It seems to be the natural process of things.

  4. #4


    The self-definition of me has changed much since high school.
    I no longer define myself via education and vocation/career.
    My self-worth is all the disability rights activism I do all the time,
    whether in-person or online via the Internet.
    I am no longer a slave to the "time clock".

  5. #5


    I think we all long to fit in and affiliate with like- minded people. It validates us and makes us feel that we belong somewhere. Some find it through religion, some find it through their work, some find it through charitable or political causes. We all want to belong and have a sense of community..

    The fact is that I don't think we can really 'define' ourselves, but rather we are defined by our own, individual life experiences. We all have our own unique stories and they are what make us what we are. What we can choose is how we utilize our life experiences and be influenced by them to be better people.

    I have said several times on this site that the issue of suicide has defined my life; through my own attempt at a young age, the loss of a partner to suicide, and a best friend who took her own life while pregnant. For a time I was defined by my initial response, which was to wallow away in depression, guilt, solitude and alcohol. It was surviving these experiences which helped me go back to school in later years for a career in social services and advocacy. I found meaning in my life and a sense of who I wanted to be. The goals and vision have changed over time but I was able to land in a place where I could do good work that was compatible with who I had become. It was my experiences that defined my perspectives and how I wanted to be a part of this world.

    I think part of defining ourselves comes from a sense of values and beliefs, striving to be exceptional with whatever skills or abilities we have. I had a father who really had no love for any of his children, especially me. He judged other people by how much money they made, how big their house was, and how smart they were. He had no use for people with limited education or income. He was a homophobe, and I was gay, so it was a recipe for a toxic, painful life of growing up. I wasn't trying to define myself by being different, but I decided that I would not grow up to be anything like him. It devastated him that he had no control over my life and that I eventually found fulfillment working for a non profit group (gasp) helping people with marginal incomes and abilities. This was my path to follow.

    Life is a journey, and it is the experiences along the way that help to shape and define us. It requires patience and open-mindedness since the goals and destination will likely change and evolve over time. I look back at the young man who attempted suicide, the victim of a father's abuse, the gay man in denial, the closet ABDL fetish: these are just a few of the things that have immeasurably defined me at various stages in my life. All of them are a part of me today and have influenced me throughout my life. What is important is that I don't let them run my life nor do I let them define me. Their influence on me has been strong and they have helped shape the kind of person I try to be today, however, I've learned to stop trying to define myself by them(or letting others define me) and instead just concentrate on being a better, stronger person, one who is more secure in just being myself. It's always a work in progress.
    Last edited by Starrunner; 23-Aug-2015 at 00:22.

  6. #6


    I still don't have a fixed sense of who I am, because the way I think and the beliefs I have are quite often changed and developed by the experiences I have and how my mood levels are. I think I define myself in two ways - by the way I act, and by the things I enjoy. I think when you're doing the former, it's healthiest even to consider the aspects of yourself you don't like as much. They're still things that are you. Our identity is us as a whole, and there's likely to be a few parts of that identity which we don't like or would like to alter. But that's life.

    I had pretty low self-esteem growing up. I have a muscle-wasting condition and have always been physically small, but I realised after a while that that's just how I am, and it's only even just one tiny bit of who I am. More important to me has become the fact I think I'm generally a kind, caring and reliable person. I'm also a bit arrogant about some things. That isn't as good of a quality, but it's part of my identity and the way I am.

    In terms of the things I like, I don't associate myself with brands or scenes, though I don't actively disassociate myself with them either. I like looking stylish and have always been interested in mens fashion, but I don't see myself as somehow connected to a brand or their marketing ideal. I like classic literature. I like true crime dramas. I like bad puns. I like eating Indian food and watching quiz shows. In other words, I define myself by what I like, and not by any template or reference point which I think I share a few interests or characteristics in common with.

  7. #7


    Dude your more different here as your self than anyone in the world. I think it's cool that created a world where you control your self and who you are. It's funny trying to be normal we end up being way different than every one else. trying to stay out of these trends and find a place were u will all ways be happy with yourself. 2questions to ask yourself: 1. Are u happy with your self as you are?
    And 2. Would u like to stay as you are forever? If you'd wander yes,no or no no...
    Then you are human and you should try new things if it looks cool and u could see your self as a better person in your eyes and your eyes only.then do it...
    Remember "what does not kill you makes you stronger"

  8. #8


    I'm a bit like you in that I don't generally conform with today's social culture. Just because I have never had the desire to. I've always been more interested in 1970's and 80's fashion than today's for instance, Most of my stuff is outdated because I like old technology.

    I represent myself I guess just in the things I like. With the technology, I carry around an 18 year old laptop with me for instance, with my furry/babyfur side I wear a lion hat often when I go outside. I love watching My Little Pony, so I have a few of the DVD's and I really want a tshirt with rainbow dash maybe if I can find one.

    There are a lot of things I don't like about our culture and just stuff in general today, like I hate the media and lots of our news stations are laughably biased at delivering news. *cough ABC News

    Anyway what I guess I try not to aim to be like everyone else. I tried that and it was one of the worst times in my life. I just try to do what makes me happy. It's really hard to push ideas of what people will think of me etc. behind me but I'm getting better at it all the time.

  9. #9


    I have never been a conformist.
    Being on the Autism Spectrum, I am a non-conformist by nature.
    I march to a different drum to use the cliché.
    Plus I always think "outside the box", not "inside the box".

  10. #10


    There's so much wrapped up in this discussion, I'm not sure where to start.

    First, I think it's rather silly to self-define by what you want to avoid. It's not wrong, exactly, lots of people do it, but it means you haven't really thought about who you are and what you're passionate about. There are infinite things in the world, y'know. There are trends, but then there are alternative movements and hipsters, individualists, all sorts of archetypes in reality and fiction that really encompass all the different aspects of life. So you can't really avoid anything and it's not a bad thing to define yourself in part by the things you love. You're not being manipulated because you like somebody else's creative work or you think a particular piece of clothing looks cool.

    Second though, self-definition is a growing thing. It's not static and you add to it over time. It varies by who you're with and you can have multiple rolls simultaneously. Just looking at myself: I'm an ABDL, a man, a lawyer, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a gamer, a writer (occasionally), a liberal (much to Maxx's dismay), a musician, sometimes a counselor, and that's just what I can think of off the top of my head. I take on these different roles with different people. Rarely do they go away, mostly I simply add new ones to the list. This is true for almost everyone, and doubly true for us as ABDLs because we preserve many of our childhood feelings and habits while still adding on adult ones too.

    Third, while we can all style ourselves however we want, ultimately our self-definition is about what we do. Being kind, noble, helpful, affectionate, or whatever aren't descriptions you can just claim for yourself. You have to help others and you gain those titles because you've done good things in the world. We are what we do: our jobs, our relationships, our work for the public. You can change or expand who you are by choosing to do something different and we can all learn new things all throughout our lives.

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