The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild portrays Zelda in a very different light compared to the rest of the series, including events that lead to her questioning her very identity. Generally speaking, in previous games, Zelda was hopeful, wise (she does bear the Triforce of Wisdom, after all), and, despite constantly getting kidnapped, could put up a fight. Her character from game to game was fairly predictable.
As you uncover the backstory through discovered memories, Zelda’s identity is slowly found. Of course, she’s the princess of Hyrule – that’s a given. However, the king and the people around her place an incredible burden on her because of a prophecy that make Zelda and Link the saviors of Hyrule.
The first problem Zelda faces is she has no power. Despite visiting various shrines across Hyrule and offering countless prayers, nothing happens and she remains powerless. Because of this, she questions her role in the prophecy, her role in the kingdom, and to a certain extent, her identity.
The second problem is the king and his expectations. He fully expects her to fulfill the prophecy without any regard for herself. Due to his attitude and treatment of Zelda, he pushes her into an anxiety ridden state where she’s constantly pushed to her personal limits – emotionally, mentally, and physically.
The third problem is her own attitude, perceptions, and lack of understanding. While she desperately wants to fulfill the prophecy, she doesn’t quite get that she can’t fulfill it alone. It’s only when Link falls and is knocking on death’s door that Zelda realizes she (and Hyrule) needs Link by her side in order to fulfill the prophecy. The power isn’t hers alone, nor is it Link’s alone.
I get all of this. As someone who is incredibly introspective, I often question myself on a variety of points. Why do I do the things I do? Why do I feel the way I do about certain issues? What am I supposed to be doing? What’s my purpose or calling in life? It all comes down to a single question of identity – who am I?
The more I’ve pondered those questions, talked with others, read others’ accounts of their lives, followed Twitter and Facebook feeds, watched movies, and played a variety of narrative driven games, the more I’ve come to realize this is the question everyone is trying to figure out. Who am I? What’s my identity?
Often times, we run into the same issues as Zelda. Not in the sense of a given prophecy, per se, but in the sense that if you don’t make a plan for your life, someone else will. I was a pastor for 7 years because of what someone else thought I should do, rather than it being the call of God. Those 7 years were filled with a lot of doubt and questions about if I was doing the right thing or doing what I was supposed to be doing. I questioned my identity quite often.
I’m a teacher, by God’s gifting and calling, which is something I’ve never doubted. It’s one of the many reasons I write. The pastoral thing wasn’t my calling though – it was someone else’s idea for my life. Someone else made that plan and it sounded right (despite my own questions and doubts), so I just went along with it. The hardest part there is it was close enough to my real gifting and calling that it was easy to mix the two up.
I use my own life and struggles as an example to illustrate the struggles Zelda went through, and more importantly, to let you know that no matter how you question your identity (or when someone else questions it), you’re not alone. This is a common theme in humanity.
Most people spend their entire lives trying to figure out who they are. In a way, we have to. Who we are today isn’t the same as who we were 10 years ago, nor is it who we’ll be in 10 years. Our values change as we grow and learn. How we perceive the world changes as we grow.
As the Bible says, and portrays over and over, we’re created in the image of God. The core of our identity is wrapped up in that statement and who God is – in His characteristics of being loving, compassionate, just, giving, and so on. However, as God is infinitely multifaceted and we aren’t perfect, the rest of our identity is ours to discover over the course of our lives. Those other facets of our identity, such as personal preferences, what brings us joy, what kind of career we’re suited for, etc, are unique to each person. Sure, there are many similarities between people, but no two people are exactly the same.
Here’s the thing to keep in mind. Each part of our identity is only one small part. It’s not the whole of a person. Don’t focus on a person’s failures or the parts you don’t agree with. Ideologies you don’t agree with aren’t the whole identity of another person. Failures don’t define a person’s identity – they are merely the outcome of an action taken or not taken. One act, habit, choice, perception, or value does not make the entirety of a person. Those are a small part of a much greater whole.
Zelda questioned her identity time and again, through failure after perceived failure. It was only in the end, when she realized that her power came from her desire to help and protect others, rather than fulfill some forced duty, that she discovered who she really was and what she was capable of. With that understanding of herself, she was able to save Link, hold Ganon at bay until Link recovered, and defeat Ganon alongside Link.
Don’t be afraid to question yourself – it’s part of the growth process. Don’t be afraid of failures – they don’t define you. Finding your identity is a lifelong journey that won’t come easily or quickly, but it’s worth it. As you discover who you are and what matters to you, your strengths and talents align to who you truly are. In the end, the world will be better for it.