The Identity Fraud of Your Mind

Identity fraud is a serious concern nowadays, as many fall victim to having their information stolen by people from near and far. Sometimes scammers do it for financial gain, an elevation in society, or just to cause aggravation. Countless sources of so-called protection have emerged, but there’s a form of identity fraud no one can protect you form: the type that spawns form within you.

We all go through phases of not knowing who we are and more importantly, whether or not we want to be who we are. As tots, we’re usually content with how things work at home with Mom and Dad, until we start seeing what others do or have at their house. After that, we yearn for whatever privilege or toy our friend has, and we’re no longer pleased with our lot in life.

I observed this way back in my preschool days. Easterseals, a charity that promotes inclusion for the disabled community, visited my class and gave a presentation about what it’s like to be handicapped. They even brought wheelchairs and walkers in an attempt to show the kids that they didn’t need to be uncomfortable around others with limitations. At age three or four, I welcomed this chance for my peers to understand me and my challenges better. Well…

To my surprise, my classmates spent that day and the next few telling me how lucky I was to be disabled. They all wished they had a wheelchair and could have the “fun life” I did. I wouldn’t say I was angered by the twist, but their enthusiasm floored me because I always wanted to have their abilities.    

Granted, a lot of kids would reap similar joy from riding around, popping wheelies for a few minutes without any of the constraints of a disability. Still, the experience highlights that tendency we all have when we’re looking from the outside in. Even when someone might be less advantaged than we are, we can spot something seemingly better about his/her life that we don’t have. We, of course, want to look for the best in others, but we need to be careful not to let that turn to envy.

How can we avoid that? For starters, we need to be honest with ourselves. Think about what others might conclude about your life. Maybe you have a great physique, so everybody expects you to have lots of friends and self-confidence. Inside, though, you’re actually lonely and insecure. You might even have a strange birth mark nobody sees that you hate! Similarly, the person you think has better circumstances no doubt has his/her challenges of which you’re unaware.

However, we won’t solve our identity issues just by admitting others have them, too. Rather, we need to focus on those positive things outsiders see about us that we take for granted. Many times, our perception of ourselves is like a fun house mirror, distorted and under terrible lighting. We don’t want to endeavor to get an overinflated ego, either, but we can take to heart the compliments people give us and strive to see ourselves in a better light.

Going back to my wheelchair anecdote, I’m still not happy to be in one and yearn to be free of it. Just the same, it’s comfortable, and I enjoy being able to sport cute heels in it! Sure, silly little perks like that may seem shortsighted and even juvenile, but if you can’t change something, you have to change your viewpoint of it.

A popular saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” I’d like to add on to that with the words, “But sometimes, the greener grass is all weeds!” Yes, each of us has our own, often little-known struggles, and nobody can walk in our shoes, even if we spell everything out for them. Thus, we shouldn’t waste time wishing we had a life like so-and-so, realizing it may not be the cakewalk it appears to be. Instead, we’re better off cultivating the little patch of the world we have—our identity—and accepting the parts that we don’t like. That way, we won’t fall prey to the identity theft from within.  

Also See

The Comparison Conundrum

Growing Into Your Garden

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