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What Does it Mean to Be Me?

03 May 2024 16:04

The Psychological Toolkit is an interactive workbook for teenagers providing the tools and techniques needed to think about and establish a sense of self and identity in a positive and healthy way. In this abridged excerpt, author Jennifer Evans Fitzimmons helps you to define what makes up ‘you’.

Think about this for a moment: the self is at the centre of all of our thoughts! Well, of course this is the case. Put simply, you are the focus of what you think about. We all know what the self is, we all use the term all the time; we have a sense of ourselves, we refer to ourselves, we talk about ourselves in conversations, and of course we judge ourselves. 

As you experience your ongoing sense of who you are, it is important to take the time to find clarity and to understand your meaning-making. Remember that the most important project that you will ever work on is YOU.

Have a look at the questions below and try to write down your responses. Don’t worry if this is difficult, or if you cannot think of much to write; just jot down what comes to mind:

  • Who am I?
  • What does it mean to be a person?
  • How do I come to know myself?
  • Am I a good person?
  • What do I want to do with my life?
  • Am I capable of change?
  • What makes me ME, and you YOU?

Answering questions such as those above involves making sense of and finding meaning around what it is to be ‘ME’. This is, of course, your own construction; your own set of ideas and conceptions about your ‘SELF’.

Self and identity can be thought of as simply all the things that you can truly say about yourself, including beliefs, thoughts, memories, physical traits, personality traits and feelings. For example:

  • I am confident
  • I worry about what other people think about me
  • I sometimes feel useless
  • I am always trying to grow and improve as a person
  • I would love to be a teacher
  • I am a great athlete
  • I am a talented musician
  • I pay attention to how my emotions affect how I think and behave
  • I keep my emotions to myself
  • I visualise my dreams and work to achieve them
  • I believe that we should look after our planet
  • I enjoy helping others
  • I believe that friendships are important
  • I am quiet and shy
  • I am good-looking
  • I have the latest iPhone
  • I have lots of friends on Facebook and Snapchat

You already may have begun to realise that self and identity are the answer to the question ‘Who am I?’ This is who you are in the present moment – as you can see, the list of personal statements above are all in the present tense.

Your physical self and appearance are also important aspects of your personal identity. Your physical self refers to your body, the tangible aspect of you that can be directly observed, touched, examined and commented on. Therefore, your physical self-concept is your perception of yourself in terms of your physical appearance and ability. Your body or physical self is at the core of your material self. Your material self also includes your possessions. For example your family possessions, your mobile phone, your car, your clothes, your friends, your body and your brain. We refer to these material possessions as mine. 

When we are thinking thoughts about ‘Me’, these thoughts are how we make meaning and feel about ourselves, and therefore involve evaluations and judgements. Another term, self-reflection, describes the reflections and evaluations of your self-enactments.