Knowing who you are (your identity) is the platform for creating a life that truly suits you. Your interests, intelligences, passions, etc. are all facets of your identity that, once clarified, become the driving factors for you to make better educational, vocational, relational and lifestyle decisions. We all kind of know this intuitively but, given the distracting forces of our familial, social and educational systems, we rarely stop and quantify the substance of who we actually are. This means that we mostly live from the outside-in (constantly reacting to external forces and options) instead of from the inside-out (where our identity sets the pace for making the choices that govern our entire lives).


I believe that our identities can be known. The more we know of ourselves, then the more we can develop and act on who we are. This begins with stating basic truths about ourselves; let's call them 'identity statements'. These statements, like ‘I am a nurturer’ or ‘I am physically intelligent’, combine to reveal a composite identity map unique to each person. By looking at a number of personal identity statements together, we can creatively combine various elements of who we are into new ways of living. For instance, a person with a combination of creative, social and business identity statements could put their identity to work as a social entrepreneur. A person using their various artistic, nurturing and inter-personal identity traits could enjoy helping children with special needs through art therapy. Similarly, a great waitperson uses their social intelligence, physical aptitude and memory/math intelligences to make a restaurant hum The more identity statements we’re working with, the clearer our choices to creatively synthesize them become.


We are often more in control of the lives we lead than we think. A broad understanding of our complex identities helps us shift from reacting to the school, vocational and even relational contexts we find ourselves in, to a practice of storytelling. These stories are potential futures we might love. Eventually, we chart ways to create a life filled with heart-inspired choices based on the substance of who we are. Over time we can develop that substance into a brace of mature skills, solid character traits and significant craft. Not that this is a cake walk. Knowing who you are, developing your identity, and acting on it in the real world takes intentionality and guts. Telling creative stories that project possible futures requires taking yourself seriously while imagining a world to come, that is, the world  you choose to create. This begs philosophical questions, smacks up against real life tensions and challenges issues of personal inertia. At the end of the day, however, your identity has the substance, resilience and strength to pull you through the most difficult and exhilarating of processes - namely, being your self in the world.









Understanding identity is super hard as a one person show. Family, friends and colleagues all contribute to a working knowledge of ourselves. The problem is, most of us don't take encouragement seriously (giving or receiving it). Recapturing a clear sense of self doesn't have to be a lonely journey. Here are a few ideas for partnering up with others:


Choosing a friend who knows you really well (and who could probably benefit from a similar process) is a great way to start. Try committing to a regular meeting once a week and pace your journey together over a few months.



Families can be complicated, but they’re also the people who know you the best. Processing your identity together could bridge gaps or bring good relationships even closer.


If you’re already part of a small group (or want to start one) you could gather once a month or more to chat and share about all the questions you’ll encounter.


Social media is not a great place to share your inner secrets, but you could encourage friends in your space by sharing identity statements and possible stories as they relate to your identity.


Some of my friends simply started gathering with people in the same apartment complex or neighborhood. Sharing identity is a great way to develop community as it starts with who we really are, and therefore why we’re together.


Allow me to introduce you to a few people that are going through the journey of discovering and acting on their identities. Each one tackles this process in a unique way. Their distinct knowledge of themselves exists because of their intentionality and their determination to be themselves in the world. Any one of these fine folk would be just as quick to point out missteps as they would clear identity statements. Their journeys are real, accessible and encouraging for anyone willing to have a go.


Each person is linked to the 8 parts of the Identity journey in this site. Feel free to explore their story along the way by following the 'Where to from here' below.



Just starting off? Click here and go to the GETTING READY page. This will lay a good foundation and help you take the hardest part of any journey - the first few steps...


The next step: getting a hold of the RAW MATERIALS you'll be working with. This includes understanding the definitions we're using and developing a language of your own for the identity process.


Now that you have the basics in place, go to the YOU ARE HERE page. This is where we look at the all the stuff you already know about yourself in order to get it in writing!


Now, it's time to really expand your self image by MAPPING YOUR IDENTITY. We'll use a number of methods to help you draw out as many 'I am...' statements as possible, creating a broad overview of your composite SELF.


Okay, now you've got a huge map to work with. We'll start looking at all the possible CONNECTIONS & THEMES you can create. Themes help group disparate identity statements into possible vocations (or just great project ideas...).


Okay, so let's take all the themes you've developed and move on to Storytelling. Stories help you project different futures using the various identity connections and themes you've seen. Your heart then chooses one by exercising your passions.


The rubber meets the road as you make PLANS based on the stories you choose. You can map out a few months, or a few decades, whereby you put your identity to work practically in everyday life.
Your life!





Articulating and capturing your identity process is central to your ability to actually do something with it.
There are a number of ways to journal this process, from old-school pen and paper to iPhone apps.
Here are a few suggestions as you prepare to start your journey:

Dave Andrews

Blue Bradley

Ferg Brown

Julie & Holly

Louise White

Kay-Morten Åarskog

illustrations by the talent & identity of Emma-Kate


If this has helped, wanna donate?


patrick at patrickdodson dot net

Click here to get The Identity Project

from Amazon or The Book Depository

Submitting Form...

The server encountered an error.

Form received.

All content © Patrick Dodson 2015. All rights reserved.