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Choose this identity for yourself || Acharya Prashant, with Youth (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
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Questioner (Q): Good evening, Sir. One of the major problems we all face is our identity crisis. In today's generation, this problem is with most of us, and especially, it plagues us. So, how to deal with this? Can you give some advice on this?

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, we live in a world where it is possible rather it becomes necessary to choose from amongst various available identities, and also, sometimes we are multiple identities at once. Now, which identity to choose? Choose identities that afford you the maximum freedom. That is the only criterion. You could, for example, in a given situation be a daughter, a student, an Indian, a seeker, a girlfriend, a student.

There are so many identities possible to you. How do you know whether or not an identity is good for you? If an identity confines you, constrains you, prevents you from learning and growing up, that identity is not good for you. If someone says that you should clip your wings because let's say, you are my daughter or my wife, then the identity of daughter or wife is not good for you. Because an identity is not the final or ultimate thing in itself. Finally, it is about your growth.

We are born ignorant beings and life has to be a journey in learning. Ever seen how ignorant, how confined, and how animalistic a newborn baby is? Very similar to an animal, and you have to grow up. You have to rise as a consciousness. Before you die, you have to raise your mind and life to the highest level possible. Therefore, the identities that you choose must facilitate your rise through life. If you remember this, it will be very easy to discard the wrong identities.

The wrong identities will always want to limit you. “Do not do this. Do not go there. Do not learn that. Do not be exposed to that because you have identity ‘X’.” The moment you hear this, an alarm should go off. Ultimately, those who have known have taught us that you should be free from all identities, but that's a far cry. It takes a while to reach there, when you are free from all identities. Given your age, your station in life, you will find the compulsion to carry one identity or the other.

Then this is the way to choose: The movement an identity becomes an obstacle in your inner growth, you should immediately realize that it is a bad omen. That identity is, in fact, a cage—discard it. And any identity that makes you strive to become better, for example, when you become a student, what does the identity of being a student necessitate? Let's say you're a student now, and you have an identity card, right?

You are a student. You are identifying as a student. Now, what will become compulsory for you? Learning, attending classes, making notes, gaining exposure, having an internship. Now, this identity, it appears, is good for you. Because by carrying the identity of a student, you are being made to grow internally, so this identity is good; this identity is good. Similarly, any identity that helps you evade responsibility is not good for you.

For example, if you use the identity of the student to say, “Oh, I'm just a student, therefore, I am not supposed to be very responsible,” then this identity is not good for you. And many a time, you will feel tempted to do this: “But I am just a student, you know.” The thing is, you might be a student, but you're also twenty or twenty-five years old, and that's a lot of years. You ought to be responsible. So, that's how one chooses her identity. See what that identity is doing to you.

It's a very delicate matter—attaching any identity to your name because with identities come responsibilities and also constraints. You must know very well which responsibilities to take, what kind of constraints to avoid. Do not just very quickly become somebody. Do not just very quickly take on an identity. It can become a life-long bondage, and there are many such identities, right?

Once you take those identities upon yourself, they become pretty much irreversible. What will you do now? And having that identity has certain implications. Even the court will ask you if you do not want to bear these responsibilities: why did you, first of all, accept that identity?

So, be very careful, be very careful, and keep asking yourself: “Am I becoming more free? Am I learning? Is my mind becoming clearer? Am I growing in compassion? Am I becoming more responsible?” Those identities that facilitate this growth within you, are good for you. Those identities that do the opposite, must be dropped or avoided.

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