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Friday, June 27, 2003

A-Ha Moment  
I was just on the phone with my husband discussing the logistics for our poker party tonight when I realized something about a friend of ours. A few weeks ago he and I had been discussing identity. I was saying that identity is a collection of behaviors. He was insisting that behavior is separate from identity, from the "real person" inside.

This didn't make any sense to me because I see behavior as a reflection of who you are. You craft your identity through behaviors. That's what happens in adolescence - teens "try on" different identities by acting out different behaviors to see which one fits. Identity is a fluid thing that we craft throughout our lives. But he was insisting that behaviors are, not just separate, but different from the core individual. That, whereas behavior may change, the identity, the core of a person, remains the same. This baffled me, but I understand now.

It happened when I said to my husband that our friend reads stupid things, practical things. And how he does lots of practical, image-conscious things even though it seems against his nature. He wants to be this person, but thinks he should be that person. So, for him, there's a paradox - who he "really is" and his behaviors. And they're completely opposite. That explains so much. Like how he seems like an old man and a child at the same time.

I wasn't able to grasp this right away because for me there aren't two separate levels, there's one integrated being. My inner beliefs are connected to my outer behavior; each affects the other.