Outer Identity VS Inner Identity

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I started my senior year of high-school this week. I’m taking great classes this year, one of them being TOK: Theory of Knowledge. We study and discuss everything we are not ‘supposed’ to study and discuss according to our society’s views – which is just what we discuss. Why can’t we discuss them publicly? Why do we live in fear? Why do we keep our mouths shut just for the sake of preserving the so called ‘security’ of our lives? Is it better to live an oppressed life of silence, than a life of being judged for your desire to be free, for your voice to be heard?

On the first day we discussed identity. We discussed our outer identity VS our inner identity. There are no right or wrong answers in this class; the point is to convince our teacher of the validity of our opinions. Conclusion was, that our outer identity is our “fake skin”. It is something that is out of our control. It is in complete control of the eyes of the beholder — and beauty won’t always be what he will see.

He judges me based on what I look like, based on what my name is, based on how I dress. One look, one piece of information (my name, which represents my background) and he has come up with an entire analysis of who I am. It may not be fair, but that is how our outer identity is judged. It is something that is totally out of our hands. As for our inner identity, that is something that we do control. It is a compiling of our interests, our desires, our fears, our secrets, our dreams, our experiences. And unlike our outer identity, we always have a guard up when it comes to our inner identity.

When meeting a stranger, we will do one of two things: we will keep that shield up, because how do we know that we can trust this person? How do we know he won’t judge us? The other choice is, we would wait. We would talk, and talk, and talk…and then wait. Observe. Listen. We notice we are both focusing intently on each word coming out of the other’s mouth. And we wait. We wait to see who will let his guard down first, and only then do we let our own guards down as well. It is like two cowboys who have no real quarrel with one another standing across each other defiantly, playing the “drop your gun I’ll drop mine” game.

They are skeptical of each other and are aware there is no trust between them, but they have mutual a desire to make peace. In my opinion, the one that drops his guard – his gun – first is the braver one. Because he is giving the other person an opportunity to shoot him, to judge him, to take his secret and turn it into a public fact. He is risking his safety for the sake of…what? Trust? Friendship? Love? Acceptance? Something. Everyone’s purpose differs.

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One response »

  1. yes we all carry an outer and inner identity which can be two very different kinds of persons. the outer identity isn’t necessarily fake though, although most of the time it has to be just because we have to abide by the rules and norms of the society that can only see the outer identity. on the other hand, the inner identity is what you are inside without worrying about what society thinks and feels. anyways thanks for a thought-provoking post!

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