Being given a common name at birth can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you will likely enjoy a greater level of anonymity and online privacy, and you won’t need to repeat your name three times in the Starbucks drive-through line.
On the other hand, your name may be forgotten in a classroom setting. There may be times when you feel unimportant to society.
While your name may be a key part of your identity, it’s important to remember that your essence extends far beyond your name. Whether you’re a John Smith, Mary Jones, or David Garcia, here are several ways for you to build an identity that is distinctly you!
Look up your name’s meaning
Every name has its own meaning, and that meaning can play a key role in how you perceive yourself. Even if you have a more common name, chances are that your parents considered the name’s meaning before deciding that it was fitting for you.
At a minimum, you have two names – a first name and a last name. Many people also have a middle name or two. Thanks to the internet, it should be easy to determine each full name’s meaning. Run an online search, string the meanings together, and embrace them as your own!
Take a deep dive into your family heritage
Most names originate from a particular country, region, or town. Your surname, specifically, speaks to your heritage and may allow you to trace your roots back multiple generations.
Start looking into your family heritage, where your ancestors come from, and what they were known for in that area of the world. This can help create a greater sense of belonging and perhaps even allow you to connect with long-lost relatives along the way!
Cultivate your unique talents
One of the best ways to separate yourself from other people with your name is to identify your unique gift mix. Whether you’re artistic, intelligent, a born leader, or a natural people person, you have a pool of talents waiting to be discovered.
The first step, of course, is to identify what they are. Once you have a better understanding of your talents, work at cultivating them and sharing them with more of the world!
Discover what you’re passionate about
Different from your talents, your passions are the activities you enjoy, the hobbies you immerse yourself in, and the pastimes you like discussing with others.
From sports and games to subjects and interests, discover the things you’re most passionate about and keep a list. This will help paint a picture of who you are and the things that make you happy.
Build your own personal brand
Whether it’s through your own business or through an employer, building your own personal brand using the internet, social media, and other mediums can help you develop a distinct voice and stand out from the crowd.
Launch your brand, find your voice, and share more of your personality, thoughts, and ideas with the world!
Forge strong relationships
Because humans are social beings, the relationships you form will also play a critical role in shaping your identity.
Surrounding yourself with positive, moral influences will likely cause you to become a happier person. On the other hand, being surrounded by negative, immoral influences will likely cause your identity to change for the worse.
Get involved in your community
Attending public functions, charity events, and other gatherings is not only another way to get your name out in the community but also to let others know what you’re most passionate about.
When someone hears your name mentioned, they will associate it with a hobby or cause that is important to you.
Demonstrate acts of kindness
One of the best ways to make a strong, positive impression on someone is to show acts of love and kindness to the people around you.
Volunteering at a function, helping out a small business, and donating to a local charity or organization are just a few of the ways to show the people in your community that you care about them.
Enjoy unique bucket-list experiences
Unique experiences not only help you forge precious memories but also help shape your entire identity.
Life is short. Book a trip overseas, go skydiving, or join a recreational sports league. One day, you’ll be able to share all of your bucket list experiences with others – allowing them to learn more about you.
Everyone has a different life story – a unique set of challenges they have had to face and overcome, and a unique set of experiences that have helped shape them into the person they are today.
By sharing your story with others, you will not only be reminded of who you are and all that you have experienced but also show others just how unique you are.
Create your own original content
Whether you enjoy writing, drawing, painting, or another creative activity, using it as a means of self-expression is one way to channel your identity through your work.
Today, it’s easy to create something and share it online. Simply create a social media page or blog where you can document what you’re working on.
Stand out with your appearance
While you may share a name with millions of people across the globe, no two people look exactly alike. You have a completely different set of DNA than any other individual with your name, making you an original copy!
Set yourself apart further by crafting your own look and unique style. There are all kinds of ways to customize your appearance. Find a hairstyle that suits you, upgrade your wardrobe, and choose accessories that reflect your personality. You might even get tattoos that have some personal or sentimental meaning to you.
Above all, be unapologetically true to yourself. You won’t be able to develop your own unique identity if you are constantly imitating other people or altering your personality based on who you’re around.
Once you have developed your own identity, be proud of who you are!
Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.