Who Am I?

Who Am I?

You’re given a set amount of time to figure out who you are, but you aren’t told how long that is and you aren’t given any instructions on how to do so. You’re told you’ll probably have roughly around 60-80 years and people tell each other what they think is the right answer for how to find yourself. People literally write books on this subject for other people to learn from. But the problem with that is that everyone is living a different life and going in a different direction. Every decision you make is leading you down a different path than anyone else. You are the only one experiencing things the way you have experienced them. So how do you pick your direction when every step you take leads you to another crossroad?

I used to think that the person I was in middle school was the person I would always be. Thank god that’s not the truth. If that were true, we would all be horrible and awkward people who don’t know how to act around one another. It is very common for people to change many times in their life. Biologically, you are not the same person you were at the earlier stages in your life. Your body replaces it’s cells so often that the cells you were born with are no longer the cells you are made up of. Your taste buds don’t even stay the same. That’s why you might find that something you hated eating as a child actually tastes pretty good when you try it as an adult.

The way life generally goes is that you enjoy your childhood, hit puberty and start questioning everything about what you once thought was normal, surpass puberty and start finding your place in what you’ve come to discover is a fucked up world. Beyond that point, I can’t tell you how life goes because I haven’t gotten there yet. At 21 years old, I still have a lot to learn. From here, it looks like I have a lot of bills and stress ahead of me, maybe a kid or two and maybe a partner in all of that. I’m probably missing big milestones I don’t even know exist. Regardless, that is all part of the life I haven’t lived yet so I won’t go into any further detail.

There are so many possibilities for how your life can change. In the first part of my life I wondered why people needed therapy because I had no idea that people could have lived a different childhood than my own. I had a traditional family growing up; mom, dad, older brother, and two sets of loving families. I was unaware of the fact that other kids could grow up without both of their biological parents still happily married. I did not know about the emotional tole of being in families that were abusive or had drug issues. One of the first identity crises people have comes with finding out that not everyone lives how you do. What you see as normal is questioned and you begin to wonder who you are. This is one of the most common times for an identity crisis. Each time a big change is made in a person’s life, a change in identity is a possibility. Moving to a new place, starting a new career path, beginning college, etc; these are all normal things that could lead to an identity crisis.

When I first began college I was faced with being an individual and learning how to survive as a person without any of the people I grew up around. This led to a huge identity crisis for me because I didn’t really know who I was yet. I had always floated through my life just wearing shapeless clothing that didn’t really define a style. I subconsciously avoided trying to discover what kind of person I was. College forced me to decide. Even before I got to college I had to decide what I wanted to major in. That in itself required me to pick an identity. The English Major is an identity that you choose to take on with all of its stereotypes and assumptions. This was an identity that helped me solidify my idea of who I am. It made me realize what I enjoy and what kind of mind I have. The major also helped introduce me to new people who liked similar things and it led me to find my place within a group of like minds. The experience of dorm life also led to an identity crisis. I had to decide how I was going to present myself to the people I lived around. I tried to avoid those decisions like I had always done before, but the people on my floor wouldn’t allow me to hide out for very long. I was lucky to be placed in a building with people who would end up changing who I was on the outside and who I saw myself as on the inside. I had no self confidence until I was forced to exist as my own person and this is common for many people beginning college. Even if you don’t take the college route, there is a point in every life where you are forced to exist without help. Whenever this happens for a person, an identity crisis is common. An identity crisis is basically when a person questions who they are. They can be imperceptible to an untrained eye, but sometimes it is obvious, like when a 13 year old girl starts wearing heavy eyeliner and wants to dye her hair neon pink. This is a form of exploration. Identity crises can also happen after a traumatic event like the loss of a loved one or experiencing something like abuse or war. Many people who come home from combat have identity crises because they are trying to re-acclimate to life as a civilian. I know many people who changed drastically after being in the military, especially if they have seen death. People who are victims of abuse go through identity crises because they start to question things about themselves and try to rearrange their lives to avoid either the abuser or memories of the abuse.

I feel like people tend to think that you are allowed one identity crisis during your youth and one in middle age (mid life crisis), and even then these crises are looked down upon. When these words are brought up it is common to see the person as a wounded puppy, someone who needs help. This may not necessarily be true. An identity crisis can be positive and helpful. Meeting people within my major led me to question who I was but it was positive because I ended up with more confidence in who I am and it gave me motivation to succeed in the major. It needs to be known that people are ever evolving and questions about yourself should be welcomed. There is always room to improve yourself. That is not to say that you are not great as you are now, but what passes as great at this point in your life may not pass later on. Different ages bring different expectations and it is completely normal to evolve your identity as you age.

 

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