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Identity is who or what a person or entity is. Different people, groups, and brands all have their own individual identities. That’s because they have qualities that help us tell them apart from others they are similar to. All of those qualities and the way people understand them make up identity.
The way we perceive others contributes to their identity in the world. For example, if someone regularly makes people laugh in their social circle, they would develop an identity as the funny one in the group. However, the way we perceive ourselves is also important.
Gender and sexual identity are two key parts of personal identity. There is a spectrum for both these types of identity, running from male to female for gender and straight to gay for sexual identity. Some people’s identity sits outside the spectrum. For example, people do not identify as any gender. Some people do not feel sexual desire and so identify as asexual. Some people use further identity markers, such as kinky or vanilla. Our core beliefs and values, our interests, and our personalities also impact our identities.
It can be difficult for people to accept all the parts of their identity, especially if they do not meet social norms or expectations. Counseling can help these people appreciate their identities and feel more comfortable in their own skin. Some people may also take steps to make their identity and physical self align, such as some transgender people who get gender affirming surgery.
Understanding and accepting our self-identity helps others understand who we are. Acceptance may not come from all people. Some people deny the gender and sexual identities of others, for example, as they are not educated or open-minded. However, most people find that even if they are not accepted, they are happier promoting their authentic identities than hiding parts of themselves from others. Knowing and accepting our identities helps us feel whole, gives us purpose, and helps us move through life.
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