How Do You Identify Yourself?

Learning how to identify yourself and how to share your identity with others is a part of growing up. Identity formation is a different process for everyone. No matter where you are in your journey, sharing how you identify with others can help you gain confidence and grow as a person.

Sharing With Others How You Identify Yourself

As you become comfortable with who you are and the different parts of your identity, you may want to share your identities with those around you. This may be easier for some than others. Those who identify as LGBTQ+, for example, may not feel safe and supported in their decision to “come out,” or share their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sharing How You Identify

Your description of yourself is how you identify. 

For example: Maybe your teacher assumes you are Asian, but you identify as Pacific Islander. Or maybe your parents think you are straight (heterosexual), but you identify as lesbian. 

There are parts of our identity people can see and name (yet they don’t always get them right). There’s also many parts of our identity people can’t know without you telling them. This can lead to assumptions, which can be hurtful. Sharing how you identify is your choice—you get to choose who, when, and how much you share.

Stress that Comes with Sharing

There are lots of reasons why you may not want to share parts of yourself with others. Maybe you don’t think it’s worth the effort to correct others. Or maybe you want to avoid the possibility of being singled out or made fun of. You may even be afraid of being discriminated against. It can be really stressful deciding how you want to identify yourself around others.

 

 

How to Deal

Here are some things to consider to help deal with stress that comes with sharing your identity:

Explore your level of comfort with sharing

Use the Knowing Me Inside and Out activity to reflect on what you share with people, what people assume about you and what you have inside people might not know. Consider how much you want to share, with whom and in what situations.

Sharing your gender, sex, or sexual orientation

Check out these activities: Coming Out: Create the State You Want, Self-Guided Imagery: Coming Out, and Building a Support Network. These can help you visualize your coming out process and think through the people in your life that will support you through it.
Connecting with others

Social connections are also important for our sense of identity and overall health and well-being. Connecting with others who share your identities can help you deal with stress. Learn more about social connections from our sister program Hello4Health.
The reactions of others

Not everyone reacts well when learning about the identities of others. If someone reacts in a harmful way, try standing up for yourself or others. It is important to stand up to bullying when you see it and remind yourself just how unique and special you are.


No matter what: how you choose to identify yourself and whom you share it with is up to you. Everyone deserves to be respected and treated fairly no matter how they identify!

  • For more resources on managing stress, visit our additional online mental health resources.
  • Talk to a trusted adult about the possibility of working with a mental health practitioner or engaging in healing practices practiced by your community.
  • When someone feels like they can’t be who they are or share their full selves with others, they may start to experience suicidal thoughts. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, learn more about suicide prevention, awareness and support.

 

Read More About How to Identify Yourself With Change to Chill

Change to Chill hopes to help teens form a better understanding of what their sense of identity is,  and to feel positive and accepting of themselves.

We acknowledge the existence of inequities related to race, gender and other social identities and recognize the need to create a more inclusive and equitable society. We also know topics of identity are complex and sometimes difficult to talk about. Change to Chill continues to address these topics in an intentional way. Stay tuned for more!