Sunday, 1 June 2014

I Question My Identity

I went swimming earlier and I swam faster than the swimmer in the lane next to me.  At first I thought I'd made a mistake, that I was much slower, that he'd been lapping me.  I swam breaststroke for two lengths with my head out of the water to check what was going on.

At certain times of day there are three lanes in the pool marked: Fast, Steady and Plodder. I used to choose Plodder every time.

Labelling theory says that our identities are influenced by the terms used describe them, and that words like Fast, Steady and Plodder can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Another of the ways in which we construct our identities is to notice the ways we are similar to and different from each other.  That's why our identities shift depending on the context we're in.

When I went swimming with Lucy last week, we chose the Fast lane, because I felt more daring in her company and didn't worry what people would think about my relative speed.  All the time I was in the fast lane with Lucy, I felt fast because, though she has to rein herself in when we go walking, we're well-matched in the water.

On the way out of the pool today I looked at myself in the mirror.  I was wearing my swimming costume with its go faster stripes.

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