After perusing the Identity Vessels, I have realized how much more complex our individual identities are. I realized that we are so much more than what we present on the outside. Seeing everyone’s common interests with mine, as well as how they differ from one person to the next, really made the difference as to how I viewed my classmates, helping me connect with them more than I did prior to seeing their Identity Vessels. One Identity Vessel stood out to me in relation to the idea of our outside self versus our inner self because it shared how the creator of the vessel struggled with finding things to put on the outside of the vessel, for they find it hard to understand how others view them. It made me think about how we are so used to being ourselves that we don’t think about how others perceive us until there is some sort of incident (good or bad such as when someone compliments us or makes fun of us).
I believe that our identities are malleable, especially as teenagers, for everyone can be easily influenced by the statements and actions of others. An example of this is how social media affects us through “influencers” and messages about how we “should'' act or what is “cool.” On the other hand, because of the influence of social media, I think society today does limit our ability to change and grow in our identities - many of us grow the way society says we should grow in our identities because when someone steps away from the social media “norm,” they can be looked at as different in a bad way. It can also be difficult to change because social media can limit us by never letting us forget who we used to be. In the article “How Social Media Shapes Our Identity” by Renner, the author cites research by Kate Eichhorn stating, “such media can prevent those who wish to break with their past from doing so cleanly.”
As I looked at the Identity Vessels, I saw Identity Vessels of my friends that lacked some of the traits that I know about them. Their perception of themselves was different from the perception I had of them. In the article, “The Complexity of Identity: ‘Who Am I?’” by Beverly Daniel Tatum, the author describes how personal identities are ever changing, and how they vary from time to time. The author states, “Integrating one’s past, present, and future into a cohesive, unified sense of self is a complex task that begins in adolescence and continues for a lifetime.... The salience of particular aspects of our identity varies at different moments in our lives. The process of integrating the component parts of our self-definition is indeed a lifelong journey.” As I think about Identity Vessels from people that I have known for a longer time than others, I think about how they have evolved as a person, still portraying traits from when I first met them, but gaining new ones over the course of time. Sometimes this helps them evolve into a better version of themselves, and sometimes not. If Tatum is correct, it makes me wonder what I will be like when I am 30, 40, 50, etc. How much of me will be the me I am now, and how will I be different?
Our identities impact our personal and social choices because we often make decisions based upon what we choose to align with in life. Each person has a version of themself that is the basis for the version of themselves that everyone knows. As you meet new people, who share common interests and introduce their own, sub versions are made to “fit in” with the group, or to make yourself seem more like someone else. Personal and social identities have common traits, but personal identities are the most authentic of all. Personal identities contain everything that an individual has considered interesting and liked, whereas social identities present what an individual thinks will earn them acceptance in the social world. Throughout the displaying of the Identity Vessels, people portrayed their social identities, even on the inside of their vessels, for people do not want to stand out too much in the social world. This made me think about how the “real” me is both parts of the social identity and the personal identity. It makes me wonder if the two types of identities ever come together so that what a person shows to the rest of the world is actually authentic.
By looking at all of the Identity Vessels on display, I learned so many new things about people who I have known for a while, as well as about people who I have known only for a few days now, since the beginning of the school year. I enjoyed learning new things about everyone, especially about people who I considered to know well. Identities evolve over time, and can be influenced by many things, which was displayed in everyone’s vessel. This project not only taught me so many new things about my classmates, but it also made me reflect on myself, and how I perceive myself, in relation to how others view me, as well. It will make me think more about people and not form an opinion based just on perception of who they are on the outside.