I’ve been thinking about identity lately and why it’s so important. I think how we associate with and identify others has either a strong humanizing or dehumanizing effect. Our dialogue with others reveals our view of their identity.

That’s part of what’s refreshing about moving to a new town where you don’t know a single person. Maybe that’s scary, I don’t know, but it’s nice to not be anyone’s daughter, sister, girlfriend…just me. I like having those connections, but I don’t want them to define me. I want them to be facets of my identity. We dehumanize others when we take those aspects and elevate their importance.

“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”

-Virgina Woolf

I wonder how often I focus on what I associate with the people I know and how much of a disservice I do to them. How often do I think about what I know about what the person does? I should want to know about personhood, not what they are doing, how successful they are, what goals they are working toward…we give those answers a dozen times a day, and they are tired answers.

The more in touch I am with myself and understand what elements of my struggles are common to the human condition, the more in touch I can be with the personhood of another. Because I think about myself and talk to myself the same way I think about and talk to others.

“How do most people live without any thought?

There are many people in the world,

—You must have noticed them in the street—

How do they live?

How do they get strength to put on their clothes in the morning?”

-Emily Dickinson