Owning Your Identity – Episode 031

Owning Your Identity

“I’m an aspiring minimalist. I’m a transitioning vegan. I love to write, but I’m not a writer.” Does this sound familiar?

Today we’re breaking down the pros and cons of owning your identity. We look at the stigma of labels, and when and how to use them to your advantage. This topic is especially close to home for us, as we’ve built a brand around two identities, minimalism and veganism.

While at times it can feel restrictive to make bold claims about what you stand for, we’ve found so many benefits from owning our identities.

If you struggle with labels and identity and find yourself being non-committal, then this episode is for you.

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Things mentioned in this episode

Owning Your Identity

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  • Annie 22/12/2019 Reply

    Your conversation got me thinking a bit…
    Though it’s not something I proclaim, I’m comfortable with people labeling me a vegan, and that’s how I think of myself in my inner monologue, and how I’ll label myself aloud if it comes up. But perhaps that’s because it’s been a “fact” of my life for much longer now than it hasn’t. Decades. I don’t really think twice about it.

    On the other hand, in my inner monologue, I also think of myself as a minimalist. It’s a handy phrase for a series of values that I have come to live by over the years. BUT if you came to my apartment, you would, no way, say I was a minimalist. You may even say I was a maximalist. A Victorian interior designer even! So, I don’t really claim to be a minimalist outwardly, unless I have time to explain away the seeming hypocrisy. My values used to be a little different — or should I say, my aesthetic sense used to be different. When I moved into this house, I was into a denser, more textural, rich aesthetic influenced by my study of art, design and various 19th century movements. Back 15 years ago, I would actually *buy* items of decor (though more often, find them curbside or 2nd hand, or make things by hand). This was important to me at one point, and I still think the reasons why, and the influences that made me that way, are valid.

    But I’m not like that anymore. I don’t buy things I don’t need and use. My aesthetic veers both ways — stark and dense. Some rooms of my house represent each extreme. But the dense rooms are filled with things from that other time, nothing recent. I don’t feel the need to “throw away” the things from that time, that make my house a home. Yes, the ceiling is draped in saris. There are many books and many bookcases. There are tons of plants and art on the walls etc.

    But if you look in my kitchen drawers, there are no extraneous utensils. If you look in my shower, there is only one bar of soap and one bottle of conditioner. Under the sink there are only vinegar, baking soda, and Dr Bronners for cleaning. I don’t own very many clothes compared to my cohort. I have donated or sold lots of unnecessary material objects and refrained from buying any more, or any unneeded or unhealthy products.

    But I have a LOT of stuff still. Art supplies, inventory for my antiques business, decor from way back. Maybe someday I won’t want all that stuff around anymore, but for now, it seems MORE disingenuous to dispose of it simply because a minimalist aesthetic is *supposed* to outwardly manifest one’s inner minimalist values in a particular way. If I were starting from scratch, I’d probably do things differently. But for now, I’m ok with living by minimalist tenets (in terms of consumerism, sustainability, intentionality, etc.) without the full stripped down decor package to match. It almost seems *shallow* to change such a surface thing just to belong to a tribe (that is supposed to have no rules). I get, and partially agree with the whole thing about “clutter” affecting your mind and productivity… that’s why there’s nothing in my bedroom beyond a bed and wardrobe.

    I know I’ve wandered around the point here a lot. I’m not trying to justify what some might see as my minimalist hypocrisy, I’m just pointing out that you can take on an identity in your own mind/heart without following the societally proscribed checklist that goes with it. I live, in the present and going forward by minimalist values, even if I haven’t whitewashed my past to fit the internet influencer mold of what that’s supposed to mean. And I don’t need to say it aloud or tattoo the label on my arm to have it be the values by which I live.

    I agree that the pressures of “imposter syndrome” and the like make it much harder when it comes to claiming a professional or artistic identity. I struggle with that, even in fields in which I’m objectively qualified. Values and how you live/act are perhaps, easier to claim as identity than these professional type qualities. It’s some sort of curse of modern society, I think, this self-doubt. I won’t ramble on further… but I did want to express my empathy.

    TL;DR You can have an identity in your mind/heart and not say it aloud. You can know you fit or identify with a label even if it doesn’t look like it to others. We are all legitimate, where ever we are with what we consider to be our personal evolution.

    • Hi Annie,
      What I love about your story is your self-awareness and ownership of what your things mean to you. I think it’s okay to have a discrepancy between what is “prescribed” as minimalism and what minimalism means to you, as long as you believe it—that’s all that matters.
      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Whether we choose to share our identity aloud or with ourselves, it’s about owning whatever that may be.

  • Nancy 24/09/2019 Reply

    Hi. I have an old phone and used to be able to download your episodes direct from your website to listen to later on when i have time but now that option is gone. Is there any other way to download it for those of us who dont have iphones or android phones and cant be chained to a laptop for an hour?

    • Hi Nancy, apologies, we didn’t realise that our player had changed. The option to download is still there. If you’re visiting the webpage from a phone, tap on the share button. From there you’ll have the option to download the episode. If you’re on a computer, hover your mouse over the audio player, and you’ll see the share button. Please email us directly if you’re still having problems with the file [email protected]

      • Nancy 25/09/2019 Reply

        It wont work on my phone anymore at all but the instructions you left for my laptop did work, so thankyou, glad to be still able to hear you guys. All the best..

        • Oh, that’s a bit of a shame, but we’re glad you were able to at least access on your computer. Thank you for being flexible! Have a lovely week, Nancy.

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