Redefining Identity

EvCC staff and students discuss their ever-evolving identities.

Confined. Enclosed by expectations and uncertainty. A name for society to identify you, determine who you are and are going to be. 

The question covering the walls, who are you?

Resilient students are finding their own answers to this question in light of social unrest, missing traditional milestones and loss of economic opportunities at a crucial time for establishing identity.

Dr. Gokce Gungor-Munoz shares the importance of self-identity: finding a purpose in life. (Courtesy Photo from Gokce Gungor-Munoz.)

“Overall happiness in life is based on a positive sense of self. A part of our self-concept is the identities we have (e.g. racial, religious, gender, vocational),” Dr. Gokce Gungor-Munoz, EvCC psychology program advisor and professor, says. “Forming a healthy identity is an important milestone in our development. It helps us find a purpose in life.”

“I think that self-identity is very important,” Hannah Williams, public service pathway EvCC student and ASB President, says, “If you are confident and stay firm in who you are and what you believe you will be unstoppable.”

Developing an identity happens throughout the course of life; humans are always moving from one sense of self and progressing into another. Looking to the past can provide insight to moving forward.

“When I was younger, I had found myself in a friend group that was much older than me. This is one of the things that has forever impacted my self-identity. I find myself striving to complete tasks that ‘are much over my pay grade’ in the sense of maturity and age.”

“Both political and quarantine-related changes have affected my mental health recently,” Williams says.

However, when identity is threatened, a distinctive loss of comfort can settle in. Life presents difficult adjustments and frustrations, where one must find potential in self-reflection.

“A big recent change for me is going back to school,” Patrick Riley, 33-year-old EvCC student says. “I stopped my college journey a little over 10 years ago to work on my career in management at the movie theatre. However, the pandemic made me put work on pause and focus on myself for the first time in a long time.”

While some may be able to cope well with life’s adversity and even embrace it, others will struggle to adapt; especially those lacking resources. Independence is a common societal pressure people feel they need to adopt into their identities, but seeking help is not a sign of weakness.

“Having been a college advisor, I have also recognized how important a source the campus advising is in informing and educating students about the numerous options they have,” Dr. Gungor says. “That system was not very well developed when I was in high school or college. I would have benefited from that support in terms of sorting out what I want to do career-wise much faster.”

The concept of self is ever-evolving. A journey of understanding, misunderstanding, and acceptance of self-growth.

As the years go on, Riley discovers more of the puzzle pieces that form his identity. (Courtesy Photo from Patrick Riley.)

“Self-identity is something that I’ve truly found over the past year never stops,” Riley says. “Finding more of the puzzle pieces in my life that fit in so naturally and feel right is what it’s all about, and the more I keep living the more I keep finding all these puzzle pieces that are slowly completing the picture.”

“It lets myself and others know who I am, but I feel like I’m still missing a couple big fragments. But so far, I’m liking who I’m becoming and who I am: a proud LGBT community member, a spiritual warrior, an introspective little nut, Bath and Body Works fanatic and a guy that just wants to know and appreciate people in life.”

Rather than be confined to a single identity, see it as an opportunity to be more than. More than a student, an employee, another label in a society of preconceived judgements; challenge yourself to accept a different version. Break free from the walls of self-identity, and take a breath of freedom.