Please Break In Case of Identity Crisis

“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:

1. THIS ISN’T THE FIRST TIME I’VE WRITTEN ABOUT THIS.

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.

2: BEING ORDINARY ISN’T AN ASPIRATION!

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 Monster.com pretty much illustrates where most of us wind up (thanks for sending it my way, Kathy!):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJB0CzlzSwY]

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.

3: I AM NOT ALONE.

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.”

IMG_6337

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.