The Identity Picture
There are obviously lots of pieces that can go into creating your identity. One way to put those pieces together is to think of them as puzzle pieces that fit together to create the picture of “you.” Some of those pieces will change over time and some won’t, but having a picture is a powerful way to see yourself and who you are becoming.
Another way to think about your emerging identity as a young adult is to think about your “brand.” You might think, “I’m not a product like Lexus or a service like Google – why do I need to think about my “brand?”
The value of thinking about your brand is primarily to integrate all the various elements that combine to create your identity – the picture you have of yourself and the picture others have of you. It’s a snapshot or a summary – and it’s important. Your personal brand will be a less complex picture of your identity than the puzzle approach, but either approach works and you can play with both.
You’re probably online, which means that you already have a personal brand online. Whether you like it or not, the digital footprints you’re leaving across the Internet help create your personal brand. By being aware and proactive, you can manage that brand. By being reactive and unaware, it gets managed for you.
Two Ways to Think About Your Identity: Your Identity Puzzle and Your Brand
These are two legitimate ways to think about putting your identity picture together, so adapt them and make them useful. One or the other might speak to you or you can combine them.
Both the identity puzzle and personal brand approach are based on reflection – simply thinking about the topics we just addressed, how they apply to you – and hopefully talking with others about them. This is not a task or a duty to check-off of a checklist, so relax and be curious and thoughtful. It works best if you reflect and record your thoughts – go away and do other things – and come back to see what else comes to mind.
It Takes Time – It’s a Journey
Developing a solid authentic identity as a young woman or young man takes time – it really is a journey. No one puts a complex jigsaw puzzle together quickly, without perseverance and without the willingness to undue things that aren’t working and try a different approach. Sometimes things fall into place quickly and sometimes they don’t. But, they will fall into place if you pay attention and stay engaged.