The insurance company’s policy renewal form requested that I reaffirm my identity. They required my first name, surname, and middle initial. The next line requested my home street address, city, state, Zip Code, and telephone numbers. In another box, I was asked to provide date of birth along with my Social Security number.
During the short drive home from my insurance agent’s office, I fanaticized that there could be an insurance company that requested more profound information about their customers. There would be a blank, half-page area provided to jot down a short essay answer to the question: “Who Are You?” On this half-page, the customer would provide existential statements about her/himself. This would allow the company and the customer to become more deeply acquainted. It would deepen the business relationship towards a more meaningful one. The relationship would be more than a simple exchange of money and contractual responsibilities.
Naturally, this half-page requirement would be greatly off-putting to many people. Other people might jot down some pop-philosophical phrases they found in books or on the Internet. Then there would be the precious few who would think and meditate about their answers. They might even continue writing their mini-essay on the reverse side of the form in a provided, optional space. I think that reading these responses would make the job of providing insurance coverage much more meaningful. There would be better understanding between the agent and the client. Of course there would be a page in the application whereupon the agent also stated her or his answers to who they are so as to enhance mutual trust. The application form would end with the usual, legally required statements of confidentiality.
How many of us take the time to ponder who we really are–deep inside? If we set aside the standard categories of name, address, religious affiliation, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, food choice eater, car brand owner/preference person, occupational status, political opinion affiliation, member of the homo sapiens species, and other socially instilled beliefs, who would we say we are?
Is there some other category that we can pigeonhole ourselves into? If we could shed all of the socially expected identities and state exactly who we are, even for a few moments, we could reveal our inner selves to ourselves. We might even be daring enough to ask ourselves why we believe we belong in a category at all. Who are we as absolute individuals? Do we have the pluck to philosophically search for where our individuality lives?
Of course, neurological scientists have discovered biological causes and explanations as to how our brains process stimuli. As laypersons, we can grasp certain basic explanations about how neurons react to various conditions if we take some time to read medical and scientific reports and so forth. However, it’s how each individual being uses these processes to form consciousness and thought that are at the heart of this inquiry. Many people find this sort of introspection to be highly uncomfortable and disturbing. However, other people are fascinated and curious about trying to discover who they are in the deepest recesses of their minds.
This identity goes beyond any particular archetype. When one discovers who she/he is, what does one do with this information? When you have allowed yourself the freedom to be anyone and anything, what do you plan to do next? Only you can answer these questions.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes British activist, actor, and rapper, Riz Ahmed. “I’m an actor. Since I was a teenager, I have had to play different characters, negotiating the cultural expectations of a Pakistani family, Brit-Asian rudeboy culture, and a scholarship to private school. The fluidity of my own personal identity on any given day was further compounded by the changing labels assigned to Asians in general.”