Who are you?
- “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another”
- “condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person or thing”
- “Social identity is a person’s sense of who they are based on their group membership(s). Tajfel (1979) proposed that the groups (e.g. social class, family, football team etc.) which people belonged to were an important source of pride and self-esteem.”
When we look at the social interactions of those in D/s or M/s relationships in forums we often see a determined and steadfast grasp of identity – both in terms of self and social identity. We also see conflict with regard to identity. “A slave is….”, “A submissive is…..”. Are you a Dom? a little? a strict Mistress? a sensual Master? Are you obedient? Bratty? When our personal identity differs from how others see us we can defend our identity with passion and vigour.
Who we see ourselves as can be merely a perception, as it is when we see anyone else. As the caterpillar asked of Alice in Wonderland “Who are you?” and to which she answered “Well I don’t rightly know Sir, I’ve changed so many times since this morning….” – if our personal identity is built upon beliefs and values, social inclusion and comparison – it must surely therefore change over time as we grow and develop and move through life. Can you really say that you are the same person today as you were when you were a small child? In very few ways perhaps.
“When I entered into my first M/s relationship I had quite an identity crisis. Never in a million years would I have thought I would feel so at home being a consensual slave. I was a strong, independent, intelligent woman. I had always been driven both professionally and personally and would never have predicted that I could feel most free being owned by another. I had found myself – and I wasn’t who I expected me to be.” slave J
Some hold belief strong to their identity. Often we hear statements such “I was born to be a slave“, “I have a slave heart – it’s who I am to the core“, “You’re wither a Dominant or you’re not – it’s not learned – it’s who you are” – how much of who we are is nature and how much is nurture? (i.e. what were we born with and what did we learn) and is one more valuable than the other? Is one more superior than the other? Is one more ….wait for it……REAL than the other (oh noes, it’s been said).
Putting lifestyle aside, many people in the world can not answer the age-old question “Who am I?”
We can often use masked behaviour according to our situation – in the simplest of terms do we speak differently when we speak to our mum or our child than when we speak to a customer or our boss or employee? In the healthiest of ways we might all have different personas that we project in different environments and situations. This may be more so relevant when thinking about who we present to our lifestyle friends and associates and who we present to a vanilla world – for some it may be one and the same – for many the two must be kept separate for survival and/or livelihood.
Can we be authentic in our identity when we hold something back from those around us? And how does it affect us as healthy, happy individuals when we can’t be ourselves? But then….what does it mean to be “yourself”?
My reflection is vague, perception unclear.
My mind is like a shattered mirror
That devises a veneer fashioned of my fears.
I’m seized inside this illusory disguise
That’s only feeding me a mouth full of lies.
Oh, how I hunger to be recognized…
Actuality stays hidden behind the scenes:
What my eyes perceive is make believe.
Trickeries are fitted in deceiving sleeves.
I’m incapable of comprehending the genuine me.
By Anne Currin