How Do You Self-Identify?

In the 1990’s I worked at the Ft Myer Library on Ft Myer in Arlington, Virginia. The library was part of Recreation Division, that included Arts & Crafts, Automotive Arts & Crafts, Outdoor Recreation, Gyms, and the Community Center.

Are you old/young or fat/thin or handsome/ugly or
happen to be some of those things?

One of the Arts and Crafts instructors was a marvelous artist. He was also a husband and father, African-American, a civil servant , and US Army vet with a substance abuse problem. He always referred to himself as disabled vet because that was how he saw himself, despite the other terms he could have selected.

Labels can be self-defeating.

Most of us have more than one label we could use to self-identify and other characteristics that we treat as less important such as

a) body size

b) race

c) physical attributes like height or hair color

d) perceived impediments like wealth, opportunity, or physical challenges

e) political or religious affiliation

f) marital and/or parental status

g) profession or lack thereof

h) socio-economic level

How do you self-identify? Are you defined by your race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, political affiliation, profession? How you self-identify may tell us more about how you perceive yourself than anything else.

49 thoughts on “How Do You Self-Identify?”

  1. You’re right, Pat. it’s easy to label ourselves and not even realize it. Or accept labels others apply to us and let them influence how we live our lives. These days, the first label I apply to myself is “old,” and in our present culture that’s not a good thing. Another one is “introvert,” which is an improvement on “anti-social.” And one of the better ones is “writer.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Old is not a good thing nowadays. I’m clinging to middle age as long as I can. I am intrigued by how an introvert can be labeled anti-social. I never thought of that and can see how that could happen. As a staunch introvert, I can so relate. I’m definitely a Boomer and am beginning to think we should lumber off center stage in American politics.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I’m telling myself middle age lasts longer now. I actually labelled myself anti-social after getting the message that normal, successful people love to socialize, network schmooze, etc. Since I didn’t, there must be something wrong with me, I thought. Reading recent books about introverts was a good revelation. And Boomers–we certainly are a mixed bag, aren’t we? I hope the upcoming generations are more capable.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. You don’t shy away from the hard questions. 🙂 I find the whole topic of identity politics fascinating and certainly some of my self descriptors have changed over the years.
    Woman. Writer. Poet. Feminist. Fat. Disabled. Independent. Proud.

    Oh, and available. I am very dinglr. Ha. Ha. Ha! 😀😍😎

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Most of my life I haven’t had the luxury of self-identifying. I’ve been told my race, gender, what my orientation ought to have been, and my religion, until I left town. Now, I do identify as a Black woman, mostly because that’s what my birth certificate says (actually it says “Colored”) and the rest, I try not to bother with. I have a hard enough time identifying as a writer! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. ShiraDest, I went to your blog site and looked you up. You are a lady of mystery and have a fascinating blog site. Thanks for adding your comments to what I think is turning into an interesting discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah, I was just looking for your blog to ask what it was you’d wanted to know! 🙂 I’m from DC, and I actually have a standard name, but as I did my family history research (I have a funny story about my preferred name, Shira, written that I’ll find and repost…) after my father died I found a need to ack all of those ancestors, so I added the names that seemed most relevant at the time (they vary, a bit, from site to site, here, GR, Twitter) I updated it.
            And the school I taught at most recently was the San Diego Community College District, in the adult Continuing Education division. I moved to California so that I could feel good about paying my state income taxes, as it seemed that this state has a large public education system, and a city with a trolley below the 35th parallel! 🙂 I’m happy to tell more, but this comment is getting rather long! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I used to live in San Diego so it is interesting to hear from another east coast person who also lived there. Did you ever visit the USS Midway? Thanks for telling us more about yourself.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Good morning, Neighbor! 🙂
            I have mixed feelings about the Midway: as a history and ship buff, I’m dying to see the carrier (especially since in 1988 at Annapolis, we female Plebes were not allowed on board a submarine that came into the Yard: only our male classmates could see it, due to the prohibition of women overnight on a combat vessel: we only got to board the sub’s Tender (supply ship)! I was so angry about that for so many years that even now it makes me lose my appetite. But I am still dying of curiosity to see the Midway.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve never really bothered to look much at my birth certificate. I suppose it probably lists me as white or Hispanic, both of which are a lie. Heinz 57 would be closer to the truth. My ancestors got ran out of every decent country around, and some of them were waiting on this side of the water to scalp them. Somehow, they all got along long enough to produce me.

      Liked by 2 people

          1. Oh, that mystery! No, not much of a mystery, well, ok maybe a little. My mother’s side is sure we descend from Sally Hemings, but I’ve not found a direct connection (plenty of side/marriage connections, though), and most of my branches end at the 1870 census, with racial listings of MU. Those that go on are also MU, both manumissions around 1820, so no way to know if the mixtures are white or Native American. My North Carolina mysteries have been driving my batty since my Gr. Grandmother’s time, but, nothing to do for it.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Thank you so much for answering all of our questions. Since I live near Charlottesville, VA–descendants of Sally Hemings are an important part of exploring the fuller history of Monticello and the University of Virginia. We appreciate your willingness to share your fascinating story with us.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Thanks! I’ve just learned to be more careful with my post titles, in the future: readers seem to think that my early post this morning is about finding a Life Partner, when it’s actually about finding a Study Partner! LOL!! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

        1. Same story here. in tracing the family tree, I found out one my ancestors in the 1700s was a black man who married a Cherokee woman. Bit of a surprise there. unfortunately, he took a tribal name, and where he came from and all that is unknown.

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, JeanMarie: sorry for the delay -your reply to my comment isn’t showing in the reader, so I’m glad I came back to e-Quips original post (but if I ever miss a comment, please do feel free to let me know).

      Yes, I am American, born in DC, in fact. In 1969, when I was born, the District was still using the old terminology (as were many District residents), but I’ve often wondered if it ever got changed. I know some places want to remove race from birth certificates, and for light-skinned black people like myself, race is often seen as optional by others (I was sternly told to call myself “Mixed” when I got to CA!), but as I watch the gentrification affecting neighborhoods differently, and my own family members being forced out of the city, I think some way of recording it is important.

      And Thank you! I try to call myself a writer, but I only believe it on days where I hit my word count! 🙂
      Safe Air Hugs if wanted,

      Liked by 2 people

  4. You know… I think I can honestly say I’m not sure how I self identify anymore. It feels like such a crazy world, it’s hard to find a place in it. Lol. Maybe I’ll stick with history nerd for now! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Self-identifying as a Mom is important, especially with a young child. We know you are so much more than just a mom so you will find lots of labels on your solo trip. Just select the good ones. 🙂 Thanks for commenting and good luck on your journey.


  6. I am a human, who does not live life to be about me, but about how I can make others’ journey a little less confusing and easier. I am not bound by color for we all bleed the same. I am however bound by morality and hold others to that moral standard. When I am done in this dimension, if I have been an example for just one other to follow, I am worthy in the next dimension. I only wish I had figured this out earlier in life.

    Liked by 1 person

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