How do you identify yourself to yourself?

When we define ourselves by age, race, gender, income, education, we omit the one essential fact about ourselves.

A Friend  and I were at a luncheon honoring fifty-year graduates of a women's college, listening as each one told a little about her life since leaving college. We soon began discussing how these graduates were different from women of younger generations and also how they were the same.

My friend then told me of her current research with students into the question of how they perceived themselves—or, as she put it, how they identified themselves to themselves. She said that some were inclined to define themselves more by their dispositions (moody, aggressive, cheerful) than, as the fifty-year graduates did, by their positions in the world (job, marital status, children). Then she turned to me and said, "It would help me with my research, and I would really like to know, 'How do you identify yourself to yourself?' "

On waking to morning birdsongs
March 26, 1990

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