How
do you introduce yourself?  Do you
pronounce your title at work before that of your actual name?  Have you ever noticed the increasing number
of people who continue to use their senior level titles that begin with the
word Retired?   Those were the questions
that sprang to mind when I kept hearing many people address one another as
“Dear Chairman” at a corporate meeting I attended recently.  There was just the one chairman present in
the room.  Yet nobody seemed to be
intrigued by the fact that the former titles of whatever chairmanships or
directorates were being pronounced before the actual names or even replacing
them.   Everybody was happy about
it.  If, after the meeting, someone had
asked an outsider like me “Who attended the meeting?” I would have replied
only as “5 or 6 chairmen, 2 or 3 directors”. 
I wish to seek answers to the following questions: How does our sense of
identity develop? What determines our identity? Are we defined by our work
titles?  Or is it that we actually represent
the work titles?

 

Efforts
for seeking identity starts from the moment we are born.  Of course the thing we seek is achieved a lot
harder than that of the name given to us by our parents or the details
registered to the birth certificate.  Our
mother, our relationship with her, then our father and then others.  We create our identity through
identification, trial and adding things that we come up with ourselves.  The identity we have created is the kernel
that defines our personality.  When
everything seems to be complete, we come up against the adolescence
period.  During that period we try to
find out who we are for both ourselves and others.   This is because new roles and
responsibilities are added to the roles we have played up until then and the
responsibilities associated with such roles. They are reviewed in line with
social expectations, and new ones are added to the existing ones along with the
ones we come up with ourselves, and if we are successful in doing so we will
have completed our sense of identity and secured the self confidence that comes
with it.     In other words, we will be
able to get to know our identity and acknowledge it without much struggle in
the face of such questions as who am I or what am I. 

 

Our
sense of identity does not consist of one single component.  There are sexual, professional and social
elements to it.  The sexual identity
created during childhood is tested out during adolescence.  We begin to compare our sexual identity and
competence with others. Sometimes we find it incompetent and get sad about it;
we sometimes even think we have a problem with it, and so much so that we think
that it is impossible to live with such a problem.   Sometimes we are deceived by such comparisons
and led into thinking that we have other sexual preferences and troubled by
it.   During our youth, we eventually
come to terms with our sexual nature and competence and secure our sense of
sexual identity.

 

We
are not compelled to find a place in society until adolescence.   Because we already exist within the identity
of our family.  But when we hit the
adolescence, we become obligated to know our social roles, place and values and
demonstrate them to others.  We get
involved in groups for the sake of securing a place in society and we sometimes
lose our identity in the process rather than finding it.  We become a different person just so they
accept us.  We become acquainted with the
feelings of ruthlessness, discrimination, exclusion on the basis of difference,
and it becomes ever more difficult to preserve our personality while opposing
such feelings.    During that period, our
love affairs become the ways in which we express ourselves.  An effort to convey our identity to someone
else and getting their acceptance.  Love
is a way to find out how we are perceived by the other person and get
acquainted with our personality based on our reflection coming from the other
person.    If we are successful in this,
all these efforts result in our knowing our own social identity and establishing
our personality in society by conveying our identity to others.  

 

One
of the answers that defines our social personality is that of our
occupation.   For this reason it is
inevitable to have problems concerning professional identity in a country where
the educational and business opportunities are limited.  Choosing the professional identity that you
will use in society is a challenge in its own right.  When you decide what you will do for a living
you will have also chosen the professional identity you will be presenting for
the rest of your life.  But just choosing
it does not settle the problem, in societies like ours, you may have difficulty
applying your professional identity by using your choice.   Of course those who have left a part of
their identity always missing by never deciding what to do in their lives are
excluded from this matter.  

 

Are
we done with our sense of identity when we have completed all those
elements?  Of course not.  In addition to our sexual, social and
professional identity, the fact that we have accepted our personality
consciously or otherwise will help complete our sense of identity.  Like we said, completion of our sense of
identity is done during the adolescence. 
Adulthood is a period in which we are supposed to merge our personality
with that of others, in the form of friendship, love affair, business
partnership etc… In order achieve those we have to have completed our own
identity.   Moreover, it is hard to say
how realistic it is to expect some degree of corporate identity in a workplace
consisting of individuals who are incapable of love and do not know their own
personality and have failed to complete their identity development, nor to
expect the creation of a healthy national identity in such a society…

Prof. Dr. Bengi Semerci 

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