Of course, as soon as we exit the womb, we enter into a family unit. Our identity is shaped by the relationships that we form. Mother, father, sister, brother; all of these contribute to who we are. It is no wonder that those who lack strong and loving family bonds, have a fractured identity.
Naturally, this family unit can morph and develop. New relationships can be formed and units can expand and shrink. All of these changes affect our sense of who we are and where we fit within the unit.
Our understanding of how we relate to our peer-groups
Peer-groups from an early age have a significant impact on who we grow into. This is, no doubt, owing to the fact that peer-groups enter our lives at an early age. The company that we keep can even lead to failure or success. This is why we need to ensure that we enter peer-groups with people that engage in constructive behaviour and want to succeed in life. By the same token, they need to be people who also want the best for you. The ideal friend will show disappoint as you pick up that cigarette that you had resolved not to light up.
Our internal battles throughout the teenage years
Those years as a child moves from the innocence of childhood through the changes of adolescence can be particularly difficult. A search for acceptance begins and the young adult becomes distinctly aware of physical appearances. They notice others around them more too and start to compare themselves with others. Others in their peer-groups also start to pick out more flaws in their appearances and this can be destructive for those without the necessary resilience. If bullying continues into these teenage years, it can be particularly serious as the nature of the attacks can become physically and mentally more terrifying. The cocktail of hormones that accompany these years and the increase in academic and social pressures, can sometimes be too much.
If a teenager can move past these years strongly, his/her sense of self may be more distinct. He or she may become far more resolute and confident.
Our life and career aspirations
At some point, the young adult may begin to gain a sense of what he/she is good at or interested in. Thoughts about where these skills and interests could lead may enter the brain. Some, end up being defined by their careers and ambitions. Others, put family first and their careers fall the wayside. Finding a balance is usually the best solution for most people. Who we are is certainly shaped by what we want. Our desire inextricably pulls us towards the future. In some ways, our own identity shapes our own future identity constantly.
At the end of life, what do you want to leave behind? I have never heard of anyone not wishing to leave behind something. Even destruction is a sort of legacy. It is also hardwired into us to want to reproduce our genetic material. For some, the end of life can also be the source of massive development, as they realise that they need to leave something good behind.