What is identity capital? Can you use your identity capital to your benefit?
Identity capital is the sum of your personal resources. You can develop your identity capital by taking advantage of opportunities, especially in your twenties.
Read more about identity capital and what it means for you.
What Is Identity Capital?
An “identity crisis” is a period of youthful exploration during which a person can collect experiences and try out different paths in life without risk or obligation. It’s an important step toward developing an identity, and it has two main elements: reflection, through which you are thoughtful and aware of your life, and action, through which you collect experiences that help you learn about yourself. This collection of experiences becomes your “identity capital.”
Your identity capital is the collection of things you’ve done long enough or well enough that they become part of who you are. It’s the intangible currency we use to obtain jobs and relationships, and it includes your schools, clubs, jobs, hobbies, degrees, and experiences.
When having an identity crisis, many people focus more on the reflection piece than the action part, but it’s those who strike a good balance between the two who’ll end up with stronger identities and be more satisfied with their lives: better able to manage stress, more in control of their future, and find themselves following more original, unique paths. Seek out opportunities that will give you meaningful experiences you can learn from. Volunteer with a charity, work as an intern in an industry you’re interested in, or take classes in something you might like to pursue.
How to Develop Your Capital
While having your identity crisis, you need to be not only reflecting on your life but also actively accumulating experiences that will form your “identity capital”: the sum of your personal resources. Your identity capital is the collection of things you’ve done long enough or well enough that they become part of who you are. It’s the intangible currency we use to obtain jobs and relationships. It includes quantifiable measurements like your schools, clubs, jobs, hobbies, and degrees. It also includes more unquantifiable things like your temperament, how you approach problems, and how you present yourself to the world through your clothes, your vocabulary, and your personality.
There’s a difference between an entry-level job at a coffee shop and an entry-level job at a film production company, and during your twenties you must actively build your identity capital by seeking out meaningful opportunities rather than place-holding ones. Volunteer with a charity, work as an intern in an industry you’re interested in, or take classes in something you might like to pursue. Avoid unmeaningful experiences that won’t teach you anything and won’t help you build skills.
Twenty-somethings who strike this balance between action and reflection spend their identity crisis accumulating interesting experiences while they are thinking about their path. These people construct stronger identities and end up more satisfied with their lives: better able to manage stress, more in control of their future, and living more original, unique lives.
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- Why the twenties are your most important decade
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