Throughout this whole process of your return to UGA and your return to your academics, and the revamping of your mindset and approach to your studies, it is important to also recognize who you are as a person. In this module we will work on addressing identity development and identity recognition – where you can confidently and definitively say who you are and who you want to be. For some this may be a challenge to evaluate your self-identity. For others they may not yet know who they want to be, and that is ok. The intention of this module is to help you establish who you are as an individual and recognize all that you bring to the table.

I hope this module is helpful and enlightening.

So, Who am I?

Who am I? That may be a difficult question to answer immediately. Or, it may be a question that you answer differently depending on the context in which you are thinking. When it comes to addressing identity, it is important to familiarize ourselves with some of the terminology around identity.

Personal identity – the way you think about yourself, the way you view yourself in the world and the characteristics that define you.

Social Identity – primarily group identities, aspects of ourselves where we belong to a particular group. Social identities are shaped by common history, shared experiences, legal and historical decisions, and day-to-day interactions. This may include how the world sees you, the way you are characterized in society based on a variety of factors. Social Identity categories and examples include, but are not limited to: age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or spiritual affiliation, socioeconomic class, and physical / psychological / mental / learning abilities.

Salient Social Identity – is one that you think about most often and that impact how you view the world. These may be identities where you feel targeted or oppressed.

Identities that you think about least, may be the identities where you have a lot of privilege, because they are not something constantly drawing your attention or are a cause of worry.

Identity Wheel Self-Reflection

Let’s take time to think about how and where you explore and develop your personal identities and social identities. Please note that not all socially constructed identities are listed, you are welcome to reflect on more! To engage in this activity, please right click on each image and select “Save Image As…” so you can download it to your desktop.

Image of "Personal Identity Wheel"

Image of "Social Identity Wheel"

Identity Wheels from Northwestern’s The “I” in Identity Series.

Novelist Chimamanda Adichie

Please watch this TED Talk by Novelist Chimamanda Adichie about the Danger of a Single Story. Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. In her TED talk Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

In watching this video, I want you to start thinking about what has been a single story others have potentially placed on you. And what single story have you potentially placed on another.

Journalist Mariana Atencio

What makes you special? When journalist Mariana Atencio was seven, her father sent her from her home in Venezuela to a summer camp in Brainerd, Minnesota. She shares how she was treated like an outsider. However, through this adversity, she discovered that the best way to belong was to embrace the qualities that made her different. In this deeply personal talk, Atencio describes how these early lessons helped her succeed as an immigrant and as a journalist.

When watching this video I want you to address that question for yourself – what unique trait or skill or background do you have that makes you who you are?


Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0

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