I have this weird relationship with “identity” and I will try my best to explain it in this short essay.

I believe that everyone’s identity takes two forms: internal and external. Your internal identity is how you view yourself. Your external identity is how others view you. Interestingly, I think there are several different ways people can interact with their identity, and manage how it evolves.

For instance, some people hope to separate their internal and external persona. Externally, they may be extroverted, but internally they may be introverted. On the other hand, some people may seek alignment between their internal and external archetypes. And then, of course, I think there is a whole mix of things in between the two extrema that people can identify with.

I think the latter appeals to me more – I want to think as I am seen. 

Basically, I have no problem with “judgement” and I think identity and judgement are very intertwined. If you avoid being evaluated, then your identity – your voice – will reflect that.

In fact, part of my ego likes being “judged.” I think everyone does in some way. My problem, rather, is that I want to be judged holistically and transparently – not in bits and pieces. I do not mind being bucketed. I mind being falsely bucketed. I mind being grouped when people do not understand me.

I think this is probably an accurate sentiment for “most people.” And I am lucky in that I am not grouped all too often – especially not in an extremely unfair and negative way (like many groups in modern society). But I still think I am judged unfairly – not perhaps purposefully – but rather because I am hard person to figure out. That may be my ego talking, but I actually think it is true. I think lots of people are hard to group, and everyone you meet is trying to fit you into a mold. But when you do not fit the mold…you do not fit the bucket…you do not share the same perspective as everyone else…what then happens to your external identity?

Do people write you off?

Or…do they just group you into the bucket of “people I do not understand?” Do they assimilate you with all other types of people that do not fit their mold?

But wait…that is another bucket!

Of course I judge others. Of course I have mental buckets – heuristics – I use to categorize some people. I think that is how we *must* get through life with little tiny judgements. We should not cover that up. I judge.

But what is nuanced, and I think critical, is judging with the aim for truth. Some people judge *to* fit someone in a bucket. That is what is wrong. Judging is not wrong. Aiming to place someone, versus understand someone, is categorically unfair and wrong.

What happens when you meet someone who does not fit into your library of buckets? If you cannot classify, do you just put them in the pile that is hard to understand (and then give up)? Or do you then dive deeper – really trying to understand?

I am not sure this essay comes to a complete thought, but here is my best summary:

  • evaluation/judgement is not bad. in fact, it is good and necessary.
  • clouding truth while judging is bad. bucketing inaccurately is bad. and occluding opportunity is bad.

Also published on Medium.