Our identity is 'who we are'

Young man looking out of his room

Forward Thinking Birmingham logoMental health advice from Pause, part of Forward Thinking Birmingham

Identity is a big word that can mean many different things to a person. Sometimes a person might see their identity as who they ‘chill with’, what school they go to, their ethnicity or their postcode (to name a few). To put things in a more simplistic way – our identity is ‘who we are’.

Personal identity

A person who is struggling with their identity (sometimes called an ‘identity crisis’) can feel isolated and confused, which can lead to the development of mental health difficulties. Young people in particular have a lot to face in terms of identity and your sense of self, as we live in a digital world that is ever changing and influenced by new trends, the media etc. A lot of young people are just trying to ‘figuring stuff out’ and find their place in the world.

Having an identity can enable people to have a sense of belonging which can potentially lead to better feelings of well-being and confidence. Sometimes feelings of isolation and a need to belong can result in people associating with groups that are negative and cause harm to themselves and/or others.

For children and young people who have been in foster or adoptive care, identity is particularly important. Our story is a big part of our identity. People who have been in foster care or that are adopted can sometimes feel as though some of their story has been lost – this can be hugely detrimental for a person’s identity and can affect how they view themselves and what they are worth.

Top tips

  • Talk to someone: It is important to speak to someone you trust about how you are feeling as bottling up your feelings can sometimes make things worse.
  • Join an activity/society that you like: Sometimes being part of a group can decrease isolation and create a sense of belonging, while doing an activity can give you a sense of achievement. Always research the activity and group first, making sure a trusted adult has confirmed its safety before attending.
  • ‘Fake it till you make it’: Sometimes you may not feel confident in new situations, so at times like this if you act like you are confident you may start to find that you feel more confident in yourself.
  • Talk to a professional: Sometimes it is easier to speak to someone who is not in your social circle as their advice can be impartial and unbiased, helping you to find a better solution.
  • Life story work: You can request support from your social worker or adoption services in order to gain more information and support around this.

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