You Know My Name, Not My Story

I’m not your stock standard anyone. I find it very difficult to stereotype or label myself because I find that I’m just too different. This is great. I don’t like the idea of being a sheep in the flock. Rather, I much prefer the notion of the ugly duckling – or in my case, the ridiculously handsome one.

Our perceptions of ourselves and how we see ourselves as fitting into society are what come under the a term emblazoned with social significance: “identity”. The way in which we identify ourselves is the way we allow society to view us but not necessarily the way in which society insists on viewing us. However, doesn’t this whole identification process create problems we really want to avoid? For my part, I find that it does.

I am an Australian; born and brought up in Canberra. Founded upon my Indian ancestry, I’m also a purohit (Hindu priest) at a local temple. I enjoy my spiritual pastimes but I equally enjoy a beer or two (or more) on a night out and a beef-filled meat pie (with sauce, always with sauce) at the footy. Being a professor of a faith condemning the killing of cows while biting into a pie is not exactly typical conduct for a person of these identities. But what does this matter?

The mere fact that I identify with cultures which infer other principles and values means that I am placed in line with these sets of ideology when I may not want to be. Why is it that others decide whether to accept the way in which we perceive ourselves? For what reason do we grant them legitimacy in judging us? People, you are free. You need not treat yourself as bound to the others’ perceptions. Don’t let them make you do anything but what you want. All these people are merely transient. When push comes to shove, there is only one thing which is constant in your world and that is you. Protect yourself.

So why do we need to have identities? I argue humansfeel the need to identify with others who grant us a sense of belonging. Let’s consider the case of the “urban tribe”: a group of individuals who do not identify with mainstream culture. The growing phenomenon seems to fit right into the Canberran scene where one cultural norm is yet to dominate. It is great to see people being proud of their individuality but now people appear to be recreating themselves to fit into these urban tribes – completely against the point! Why can we all not live our lives as individuals and celebrate unity in diversity?

Is it not these distinctions themselves which are the cause of many, many evils in our world?This is why I implore all my readers to not get caught up in categorising and labelling each other but rather to rejoice in our differences because, at the end of the day, how boring would our world be without individuality?