How Many Identities Do You Have?

Taking on a new identity means exploring an exhilaratingly badass side of myself that I never knew existed. Photo: Phillips Photos

Adopting a new name has created a big aha moment for me: I already have many identities and my newly adopted identity as ☀️💛 is only one. This morning, I jotted down all of my various identities, and I was astounded at the number. Here goes:

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend, Writer, Content Director, Advocate, Congregant, Spiritual Seeker, PEO Member, Style Fan, Prince Fan, ☀️💛.

That’s 15, and I’m sure I could come up with more. At first, I thought, wow, this explains why I feel overwhelmed at times. But then, I reconsidered. Perhaps having many identities is a good thing. Perhaps the more identities we have, the more we have to fall back on if we lose one. If I lost my job, then I can fall back on my identity as mother and wife and writer. Making the list pointed out some gaps where I’ve neglected identities I used to value: Yoga enthusiast, runner, book lover. I want to bring those back into my life this year. It’s important to look at your identities and ensure that you’re attending to all of them over time — maybe not all in a day, but using myself as an example, if being a mother and writer and wife is taking up all my time, I need to make a conscious effort to spend time and effort on other areas. So for example, I need to make sure to attend monthly PEO meetings, call my brother, and participate on my favorite style website,

When Alex Hahn and I wrote The Rise of Prince, it opened up a world that I never knew existed: A community of Prince-loving souls. As my interest in Prince grew along with my research and writing, the question was clear. Would I join in with the community, or would I stay on the periphery? Would I keep my interest in Prince as a small part of my life?

As an author, I could justify staying on the periphery and keeping an outsider’s point of view. But the joy of a shared interest was beginning to lure me in. Until 2016, I knew I liked Prince, but it had been years since I’d invested time or energy into my interest. When he died, I unearthed my CD collection and was shocked at how many Prince CDs I had collected over the years, including all through the 1990s and into the mid 2000s. But it had been a long time since I’d gone to a concert or bought a book or album.

This time, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake: I decided to fully embrace my ongoing interest in Prince, even after the book was published. I leaned in and made the Prince community a big part of my life. I started putting commitments on my calendar. I attended Celebration 2018, a three-day “Prince conference” hosted annually by Paisley Park. I went to live shows by bands and artists associated with Prince, even if I had to go by myself. There, I struck up conversations with fellow fans who have since become dear friends. I joined Facebook groups and instead of lurking in the background, I jumped in and added to the conversation. I listened to podcasts, notably Michael Dean’s Prince Podcast. I cleared off a bookshelf in the family room and started filling it with Prince-related books. My interest in Prince was filling my calendar and my shelves. It was influencing how I was spending money and how I was spending my time. I invested a lot in my Prince interest, and I began to reap the benefits as friendships grew and deepened. As I built my identity as a Prince fan, I gained many new friendships with people I would never have met otherwise. This shared identity as Prince fans gave us all a reason to hang out. It led to deepening relationships with people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise, but with whom I shared an instant bond over our shared interest.

One thought on “How Many Identities Do You Have?

  1. Eva Swahn

    The first layer of roles are the social ones that you mention: Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend, Writer, Content Director, Advocate, Congregant, Spiritual Seeker, PEO Member, Style Fan, Prince Fan. Your symbol is on a deeper level in my opinion. I think Prince investigated the arctypes in himself he could identify with and he gave them names. Through my own inner journey I met a terrifying female. She told me her name was Black Mary and that she was a part of me. She was an ancient female archtype giving birth, but also being death. She reminds me of both Kali and the Nordic Walkyries (Wagner) the bringer of love/lust, but also coming for the dead men at the Battlefields. Prince decended like Faust in Goethes Divine Comedy and got to know his inner demons. My personal opinion is that he should have been accompanied (like Faust) by a guru/shaman or skilled psychollogist. Even Jung writes that when he decended into the realms of the uncouncious he could have become trapped. He said having a Family and his dedication to his patients made him find his way back. Artists need to have an open pathway to these realms, but also the tread of Adrianne to get their way out of the labyrint.

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