Who I am: what I have done in my life, what I have lived through, experienced, thought, and felt; those are the things which define ME. My personality, it's quirks and idiosyncrasies, those gifts (and Flaws) which make up the sum total - those are Who I Am.
The symbols that we choose are just that - an abstract representation of a reality. That reality remains, regardless of the symbols attached to it or discarded by the wayside. The symbols which we hold dear to us, however sentimentally attached to them we might become for what they represent within our hearts, do not define Who We Are.
They might serve to remind us, if we are unfortunate enough to lose our way from time to time, unmindful of what life has taught us or heedless of the greater sum. But they cannot, in and of themselves, make us who we are, or change who we fundamentally become over the course of time and life.
While I have recently given up a Symbol, it's presence or lack does not in any way advance or diminish the intrinsic ME. I am still now, and shall remain, the person I was before I gave up that symbol. I did not change to suddenly become something I was not, in and of myself, when I still had that symbol. It does not define me, rather I, being who and what I am, define IT, and it's place within my life.
A piece of jewelry, no matter how precious the concept behind it's form, is just that. A simple piece of jewelry - an ornamentation that adds nothing, overall, to the value of the underlying flesh upon which it is lain. Nor does it's removal somehow detract from the overall value of the body that it's removed from.
I know who I am. I don't need a piece of jewelry to remind me of who I am, where I've been, what I've seen and done, or what my overall value is. Whether the rest of the world sees who and what I am rests upon the shoulders of others - who will either acknowledge it, or not - but it's not for me to open their eyes.