So, I was watching one of the people I follow on YouTube. It was the first time they’d posted in a while. I dig their content, so I was curious about the absence.
By luck, it happens that this very topic was the subject of their post.
It turns out that they, (and yes, I’m purposefully being vague about specific identity here), have been having an identity crisis.
Because, apparently, we’re all supposed to have a set image we present to the public. And, if that is the case, it only follows that, before we can get to that place, we should have a set vision of ourselves.
At least, that’s the theory.
But I have a problem with this.
Actually, I think we all have a problem with this.
Allow me to explain. (in case you thought I was going to forget about our fucked-up culture and just talk about writing until the end of the universe…)
This particular person, the YouTuber I subscribe to, is in their late 20s.
Being in my 40s now, I thought:
How in the hell can you have an identity crisis, you’re barely old enough to know what your fekkin’ identity is?!
And that’s where I had the realization.
The only reason anyone under 30 should even approach the outer boundaries of an identity crisis is because our goofy-assed culture has been telling them, all of us really, that we have to have exactly who we are nailed down, in precise detail, as early as fucking possible.
That’s a problem.
Sure, we have examples of extremely successful people who are fairly young, but we have just as many, if not more examples of success being achieved much later in life.
40s. 50s. 60s even.
Except those examples don’t get anywhere near as much media air time as the youthful prodigies do.
Here’s a funny aside: if you look at the age demographic in our country, you’ll see that, because of birth-rate decline, there are more people in the “older” category. Just research some of the depressing statistics about Social Security, and you’ll get up to speed with a quickness.
Our culture mutates fairly quickly, anymore. So quickly, in fact, that people of the Millennial Generation are told to expect to have something on the order of 15 different careers in their lifetime. Fif-fucking-teen.
Why, in a culture of never-ending change, would we drill into the heads of our populace, especially the most young and impressionable of us, that we have to create a crystallized version of ourselves by the time we graduate high school?
(Yeah, that life-plan bullshit started when I was in high school. I can only imagine it’s gotten more intense in the intervening twenty-some-odd years.)
But even beyond the institutional peddling of patently nonsense ideas, we are bombarded with endless articles about how much money we should have saved by the time we’re 30, or how much this or that we should have accomplished by the time we’re 25, or how far we should be able to shove our own heads up our own asses by the time we’re, whatever – you get the picture.
Put it all together, and we swim in a toxic soup of messages that all decree we should have every yard sale bit of our lives labeled and lined up in neat rows before we reach our mid-20s.
In the words of George Carlin, “It’s all bullshit. And it’s bad for you.”
Personally, I didn’t know, really know what I wanted to do with my life until the age of 27. And at that point, the world and my education had done nothing to prepare me to pursue that goal. So, I had to start my learning and make progress as I could. In essence, I began discovering my identity from there on out. I’m still exploring parts of it. I imagine I always will, unless I become boring.
But I’ve always been precocious. For some people, it happens much later than almost-30. Some people reach the autumn of their lives before really knowing what they’re meant to do with the time they have left.
AND THAT DOES NOT FUCKING MATTER!
It really fucking doesn’t. I promise.
The only reason we think it does is because we’ve been led to believe we can compare two dissimilar things. Quick tip: you can’t. It’s all apples and oranges when it comes to comparison. There literally can be no basis to judge.
I’ve said it before: we can note differences. But assigning value does not logically follow from noting differences.
Anyways, I feel like I’m getting off track.
Let me state, unequivocally, I am not pissing on anyone who feels like they’re having an identity crisis – young or old.
I love you, and I hope you pull through it.
What I’m saying is this:
The only reason any of us would even be in that position is that the idea that we should have it all together at an early age has been shoved down our brain-throats our entire fekkin’ lives.
That shit just isn’t true. And it’s seriously fucking unhealthy to believe.
Life is a learning process.
And it only reaches a stopping point when we die.
Until then, it’s constantly moving, changing, mutating.
And so are we.
(This is not to say that you will never have an identity, we all come to that understanding of ourselves, eventually. But it is to say there’s no need to feel rushed about it. Don’t know what you want to be/do in your 40s? Fine. It’s just not time for you yet. 50s? 60s? Same deal.)
There is not a guidebook for life. Regardless of what articles, list-icles, and click-bait internet headlines would have us believe.
We’re all figuring this shit out as we go., and it’s different for each one of us.
That’s what is.
And what is, is all we’ve got.
If you don’t know what you want to do or be, it’s okay.
If you don’t know who you are yet – whatever that means – that’s okay too.
Just don’t give up looking, and you’ll figure it out, eventually.
And then, the time will be right for you.
We are all explorers in uncharted territory.
We all have to draw our own maps.
I wish you all a steady hand and a good journey.
Until next time…