Forming a True Identity

Fitzpatrick - Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 6, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: Christianity

During the course of a lifetime, one has a growth in the understanding of one’s identity. When people begin to form complex thinking skills, they also begin to mold their own identity in the general form of their parents’ identity. Within the span of adolescence and adulthood, this tendency begins to fade away and a new search for identity begins. A person’s identity is either rooted in religious belief or in the lack of religious belief. The struggle with the question of religion forms a person’s opinion about the purpose of their life and what will happen after they die. In the beginning of a person’s life, the parents answer the question of religion. After childhood, a person searches for either support for what their parents told them or new ways to act.

Many people go through a majority of their life with a false idea of who they are. It is my personal belief that the only way for someone to discover their true identity is through facing challenges. The degree of variation between one’s thoughts during a time of limited stress and the thoughts during a crisis describes the validity of one’s current identity. The reflection on past challenges is the process by which a true identity is created.

I have been going to church every Sunday since I was a young child. To go along with church attendance, I was forced by my parents to attend Catholic education at my church. During my childhood, I saw myself as a good Christian boy because I did these two things. The truth however, was that I had no idea what it meant to be a good person or a practicing Catholic. Throughout middle school I was selfish, mean, and disrespectful. My faith in Christianity was strong due to the lack of challenges during my childhood, but my understanding of Christianity was weak for the same reason.

When I entered high school I met fellow students who had strong beliefs that were very different from my own. I saw the ideas of atheism, agnosticism, and even Satanism for the first time in my life. The idea of agnosticism, centered on the belief that a person cannot know whether God exists or not, made a lot of sense to me during my freshmen year of high school. The question of, “Why do I believe in God?” was an incessant thought during the year. The only response I could think of at that time was that my parents had forced the religion on me. Looking back on this thought, I realize that at that moment I was in the middle of the largest crisis of my life. I chose to face this challenge head-on and discover my religion rather then allow it to be handed to me. I began attending bible studies on Friday mornings and was inspired to pray before I went to sleep. Through these two things that I chose to do, I discovered a true faith in Christianity. This faith became a part of my daily life and formed my identity as a person.

I believe that my identity was created through the struggle with my faith in God. I think I could have very easily avoided this struggle during my adolescence. I could have told my parents to put me into a Catholic high school where I would be surrounded by people with similar ideas. This way, I would have no challenge to my faith and it would remain strong. However, this faith would be my parents and my Catholic friends’ faith, not my own. Later in life, if I were to run into a challenge to my faith, I would have nowhere to run like I did in my teenage years and my faith would crumble. My beliefs would not remain after the challenge because my faith would have no substance behind it. A true faith is created through a person overcoming challenges to their beliefs. The faith that I have developed has given me a purpose in life to act like Jesus and a promise that I will be with Him when I die. I have faith in God, and this faith forms my identity.