Please Break In Case of Identity Crisis

Securely held for a decade, it's time for me to crack this box open and remember who I am.

“Please break in case of identity crisis.”

I’m of an age now where I’m too old for a quarter-life crisis and not quite old enough for a thrisis (i.e. the impending threat of turning 30 being on the near horizon), but there are times where an identity crisis will catch you off-guard regardless of how old you are.

At times, change is definitely one of life’s less appealing pills that is has to offer you, but you still have to swallow it. Change is one of the key reasons why the blog hasn’t seen too much of me lately. Some of the major changes going on in my life as of recently include:

  • having to get all of my stuff out of my home office to convert it to a second bedroom for friends who’ll be staying by Casa de Palmer for a bit (a good thing)


  • recent changes to my reporting management at work, adding an extra layer of complexity to how I have to do things (a confusing thing); and
  • fairly recently becoming a homeowner (I mean, it’s only been a year and I’ve never lived away from home before! — a hard thing)

Change can bring a sense of adventure and can shake things up in one’s life enough to inspire growth and development — but is there a point where you can overdo change? Can you change so much that you’ve lost all sense of who you are and how to get back to who you once were?

While I definitely feel like I’m lost and directionless at times, I’d be naïve to think that I got to where I am overnight — at any given point in our lives, we are the product of decisions we make and the actions we take. We often look at our adult selves and wonder “when did it all get so complicated?”

Our lives only feel complicated because we compromise. We do things we don’t actually enjoy in the pursuit of money. We forget and forgo our childhood dreams in the pursuit of lower-hanging fruit: jobs that’ll pay the bills; certificates that’ll give us a better chance of getting jobs — we listen to advice from just about everyone other than ourselves because we convince ourselves that people are speaking from experience and know better even though they are not us.

The idea of all this change and the paths is leads us down got me thinking on a few things:


I’d been looking for images of Centennial College’s “What DID You Want to Be?” ad campaign from last year, justifying the sense of deja vu I was getting while doing so by finding them on an old blog entry. But while I was only pondering about how we get to the points in our lives where we’re no longer happy, this time I plan to do something about it.


Sure, you can lead a comfortable life, but it’s very unlikely that you’ll be happy with it.

As we journey through life, we make more and more complex decisions that have us venture farther away from the simple joys we enjoyed as children, all for the sake of learning how to survive in this world. But this ad for pretty much illustrates where most of us wind up (thanks for sending it my way, Kathy!):


Who wants to be stuck in drab office culture? Who wants to be just another cog in the massive machine that runs our economy? None of us aspire to be “just another worker” — I’d like to think that we’d all like our lives to have meaning — but we need to be active participants in defining what that meaning is.


This is an important thing to realize. In Musiq Soulchild’s song “You Be Alright“, he opens the second verse with:

People have a tendency
To think to themselves that they’re the only ones
Going through more things than anyone else
But oh, I bet you’ll beg to differ
If you would just consider the bigger picture
Cause then you would see that most people go through
The same things that you do in life

It’s true. We isolate ourselves and let ourselves think that we’re trapped in the lives we lead, unable to go back to the simpler lives we once had.

Which is totally untrue.

What we need to do is remove the layers of crap that we allow to weigh our lives down so that we can escape the lives we don’t want and move on to the ones that we do.

So with all of this in mind, I finally decided to do something that I said long ago would only happen if I really needed to do it.

That’s right; I’m re-reading my candygrams.

I know some of you out there are saying “big effin’ deal” to this, but hear me out.

I didn’t lead your average school kid’s life — I’ve always been in niche classes, whether they were French language-only, enhanced curriculum — or private school. And in a school of 400+ students where you’re one of 3 Black kids, it’s not hard to stand out. I started out as a quiet child in my first year at University of Toronto Schools, soon coming out of my shell and using my ability to be easily recognized in order to become friends with everybody. It was good that we charged so little for candygrams (10¢ for a half-page or 25¢ for a full one), because I’d end up writing damn near everyone in the school!

And much like everything else in life, you get what you give.

So I wound up with well over 1,000 candygrams in the five years I spent there, a reminder of a time period where I was living 20-hour days with near limitless energy, trying to experience as much in life as I possibly could. I’d leave there, graduate from a public high school with new friends and a new mindset, go to a university that’d only bring out the worst in me, and in the end, end up just like everyone else, paying the bills and trying to figure out how to get the most out of my life.

After high school, I figured that those candygrams just might save me someday (for example, if I got amnesia), so while I didn’t write it out, I put them all in shoebox, covering it in multiple layers of duct tape and thinking to myself:

“Please break open in case of identity crisis.”


Securely held for a decade, it’s time for me to crack this box open and remember who I am.

With that, I encourage you to break open whatever your box of candygrams might be. Whether it’s your high school yearbooks, old photo albums, or relatives who remember what you were like when you were younger, we all have something we can use to rediscover who we once were — I especially encourage this if you’re not happy with who you are.

It’s never too late to “un-reinvent” yourself — who knows; less change may have been just the thing you needed all along!

–case p.

Author: Casey E. Palmer

Calling the Great White North his home, Casey‘s spent the last few decades in pursuit of creating killer content. From novels as a kid, comics as a teen, to blogs and photos once he could grow a beard, he’ll use whatever’s around him to create amazing stuff. When he’s not creating, he’s parenting, exploring and trying to make life as awesome as possible for everyone around him. Because a boring life’s not a life worth living!

11 thoughts on “Please Break In Case of Identity Crisis”

  1. This is beautiful man! We think of change as something that gets us from point A to point B, but you need to always maintain a sense of your unique self. Otherwise you’re going from point A to no where in particular. While you need the unexpected changes in your life, moderation is key. Sometimes you need to go back to who you were and realize how did you get there. We must understand that we are building layers upon layers onto our lives that cloud our vision of who we want to be.

    This blog post is similar to what I’m attempting to do with my entire blog – remove the layers of unnecessary complexity that we sometimes build. It’s an important point to address and I’m glad you wrote about it. This post is a reaffirmation of the importance of being who you are – being the novel you if you will – and not being defined by the sometimes needless changes and layers that occur as you get caught up in school and work, reaching “the low hang fruit” of life as you put it. Thank you for writing this.

    1. *phew* Thanks for the comment, man. It was getting really lonely out here — though I was fortunate enough to get some conversation from it through FaceBook messages, comments and a little bit on Twitter. So I guess it was a half-decent read 😉

      It’s really true that anchoring yourself to the novel you is highly important, and we let all the distractions in life veer us away from that. This was a cry out to get rid of all that and really work at figuring out what makes each and every one of us tick — it’s not an easy thing to do, but I think that it’s completely necessary.

      I hope people can come across this and gain something from it. Thanks for the words, bro — always appreciated!

      1. Haha, I guess some posts have more comments than others for whatever reasons – don’t stress it. It was an awesome read, and something that doesn’t get enough attention because it’s easy to lose ourselves. But then it begs the questions, what is the self? That’s why I love philosophy, the question of self is so intriguing! Look forward to more stuff from you

        1. I was never the philosophical type at first — I went to school for business after all! But as time goes on, I find that these are the questions that need to be asked in order to make sure we’re travelling down the right path in life!

          Step by step, my friend — step by step!

          1. I got my Bachelor’s degree in Businees & Economics as well, but I’ve always been personally interested in sociology, psychology, and philosophy. It helps me always see everything through a personal perspective and how it relates to me and others. I feel that it’ll ultimately lead me to fulfillment – more so than pursuit of profit. This advice should apply to businesses as much as it applies to businesses imho. Check out this video of Cornel West just dropping some serious knowledge on finding greatness.

            1. Cornel is always a very interesting listen — I agree with his thoughts on looking past the “pecuniary” gains and looking more into the quality of your service and at what level your existence actually contributes to the world at large.

              For me, I like fixing things. Making sense out of a large number of different things and figuring out how they’re all interconnected. Things like that make me tick.

              In some weird way, exploring themes of that nature are how I seem to validate my existence 🙂

              1. I absolutely adore Cornel West. One of the biggest regrets I have is not getting a chance to hear him speak at my university last semester 🙁

                And as far as having a greater vision, I have a similar one as you. I love how everything is related and interconnected. I am always mesmerized by simple relationships things and how it makes everything better. weird but I love sharing those ideas with people.

                1. I haven’t heard a ton of what he has to say, but enough to know that he always knows what he’s talking about 🙂

                  That’s cool, man — I’m currently working at some logos and cleaning out my email inbox; I try to address everything in there, but never delete anything until I’m sure I’m done with it, because older conversations tend to spark the ideas I need to get through obstacles in the newer ones 🙂

                  Keep on fighting the fight against mediocrity!!!

  2. OMG, you seriously made a duct-tape box of candygrams? That’s so cool! So I’m dying to know if you’re reconnected on Facebook with all of your h.s. friends who sent you the candygrams. Wonder if they’re feeling the same right about now.

    So was reading the candygrams helpful? Of course, now your question about entrepreneurship makes total sense.

    1. Heh — I’ve had a lot of my high school friends on Facebook for quite some time (I have 1400+ friends on there); I didn’t hear too much of a response from them in general, but one of them spoke to his nostalgia regarding the candygrams 🙂

      I haven’t had a moment to breathe and take them in — I think that’ll be this weekend 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Angelique 😀

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