Since people can be broken down into individual compartments of personality traits, emotions, wants, needs and aspirations it is easy to see why we constantly seek our purpose or our niche in the world.
In High School I took a class in sociology 101. It was an elective course, meaning that it was not a required part of the state dictated curriculum. I had taken the course because I’d had a huge ‘blow-out’ with my drama teacher and quit the drama course as a result. That left me a whole semester with nothing to do. My ‘school mentor’ suggested I try the sociology course to fill the time.
I am glad I did. It gave me a better understanding of my fellow man and introduced me to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
This brilliant chart explained so much of how we interact with one another both as groups and individuals. The entire course helped me to become aware of how people go through life in search of different things at different stages in their lives. Did this course make me an expert? Hardly. But it did help me to understand my fellow-man and how we interacted socially.
Man is in essence a social animal. Constantly wanting to find a place to fit in. Some people find that belonging to a church fulfills that need of belonging and helps them to define who they are and what they believe in, their identity if you will.
Others join different social clubs, a book club, movie club, the rotary, the roundtable et al. Very few people have the conviction or courage to be their own social group. Someone who does not require other ‘like-minded’ people around them to define them.
But whether you are a social animal or not, we all look for our place in the world. If we did not, why are there so many religions and variations of the same theme the world over?
Our search for identity may lead us to be many people or to join many different groups. Who is to say that this is bad? This search for identity or belonging.
Success is not a sign of identity, nor is failure. These two states of being are too fluid to be permanent states. No one ‘wins’ all the time just as no one ‘loses’ all the time. Success, besides the monetary connotation, is a state of mind, just like failure is.
There are many people in the world who are deemed to be successful by societies standards, yet by their own personal standards these successful people brand themselves failures.
It all comes back to that lifelong search for self or identity. If we have not found out who we really are and what we truly believe in, we cannot be a success. Each individual has to find their own personal identity. One that has nothing to do with the social aspect of living, but has to do with their own personal journey and their discovery of what they really are.
So until we discover our identity or something like it, we will continue to search. It is in our nature, perhaps even part of our DNA, to walk the path of individual worth and self-awareness.
It is a challenging journey and sometimes a frustrating one, but it is one we all have to take.