When we reach Adolescence the issue of Identity comes to the fore. Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do I want people to see me?
Many of these issues are manifested in everyday life as we try out relationships, new activities, joining different groups, adopting different dress styles or fashions. In this way adolescents are very labile, moving from one persona to another as they try things on.
Among all of the trials and experiments a sense of self is emerging, its clarity depending on whether we have an ‘observer’ part of ourselves to monitor or watch ourselves, or good friends who give us authentic feedback about our impact on them and the world.
In a sense this search for Identity is a lifelong journey, Jung for one suggesting that only in later life do we reach a self that we are content and unashamed to portray. For many of us our working years are lived between work and home personas, where one set of attitudes and behaviours can easily spill over from one persona to the other.
Our Identity is a deep, core level aspect of our psyche, and we make make choices and decisions to reflect our identity, to expand it or try to change it. It starts to emerge, often with painful or hilarious consequences in our adolescence. Years later we may look back at photos from this period and smile – or wince!