Ripping the fibers apart and scraping the guts from the thin veneer that proves our socially recognized existence… We’re constantly compromising, killing our impulses, restraining our wanderlust.
We’re waiting for approval, waiting for that aha moment, waiting, anxiously. We want to know but don’t want to deal with it.
Meanwhile, we’re dipping in and out of our rabbit holes, our wormholes to other lands and other dimensions; we’re mapping our routes and pioneering new ones. We’re constantly growing- destroying layers and building new ones, forming dynamic string webs that connect distant but related ideas. Actively building and chipping away at the walls that keep us safe and alone and together and vulnerable.
It seems messy but fluid, both vulgar in its openness and beautiful in its parallel potential for simplicity and possibility – for finding that essential something.
What is identity?
It’s useful to us, allowing our simultaneously crude and delicate thoughts a home to inhabit, a sense of belonging within our awareness of the self, and yet… and yet it is infinitely arbitrary, as we move towards completeness.
It is found in that middle era, that awkward stage from which we’ve lost the innocence of our simplicity, and have yet to find the clarity.
Identities offer a familiarity and sense of acknowledgement through the differentiation they provide. They offer shortcuts and blurry interpretations of whatever reality we may live but can never fully perceive. They operate for us as a tool, a collection of quirks and skill-sets, defining our marketability and making us predictable – even those of us claiming the most predictably unpredictable titles. Our identities provide us a safe way of taking the world in strides, of assigning it meaning and avoiding the threat of abyss. Without them, we may step away and never return.
But these identities are also our greatest limitation.
Identity relies on the idea that we are unique in our patterns, and we are in some ways… But so much of it is based on that buildup, the perpetuation of a body of masks atop layers of the world’s smog. That is the false sense of identity we walk around with. And so much of it serves as a perpetuation of what was before, repackaged for a new generation to consume.
So few of us find that state beyond. That state that doesn’t need definition in order to be validated. That state of true fluidity, true presence, a consolidated whole that is quite possibly infinitely employed.
In order to find a more whole self, we must weather away ourselves. We must deconstruct the constructs, question the patterns of thought we’ve been conditioned to adopt, bred to rely on.
Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – our reality exists in a paradox.
We can discuss the paradoxical nature of virtually every single layer, every floating body, every process, every disorder, every concept of our relationship to one another. Even the nature of concepts themselves.
We’re simultaneously hurt and benefited, killed and born, created and destroyed. Complicating for simplicity, simplifying to reveal beautiful complexity. Together, we move towards diversification and assimilation.
We’re destroying and building ourselves.
It felt necessary to position the above reflection first.But the following rant was written first.
Sometimes, it feels like in order to be a good student, one must empty themselves of identity.
It’s driving me crazy.
My mind constantly shifts between the obedient student, and the curious artist I once was.
We’re told to be curious, to WANT to explore and learn, and oh how I do… But then we’re told how to be curious, where that curiosity needs us to land, and we’re told that we can’t spend too long in limbo.
I want to get lost in limbo; I want to be disoriented, to disregard time in order to create and explore, and to not constantly feel guilty for every moment I flirt with the idea of cracking open Pandora’s box, again. Tracing the edges with my anxious finger tips…
I want to talk about philosophy. I want to understand why and how we are the way we are. I want to sing, paint, play the piano and the violin and understand how the body works and how to heal it and how the world works and how to sustain it, to speak at least seven languages and never meet a stranger and yell my passions to the world and listen as the world yells back. I want to be human.
But I’m obsessed with this idea that I can and must do something for the greater good, and to get there I need to be good- to get through school, to remain employable and to always be trustworthy and dependable. Basically, to maximize my options because I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I feel like it will all become clear and I don’t want to regret giving up my options.
Maybe it’s because I’m scared, scared that without the safe paths society deems appropriate, I’ll get lost in the forest, and never make it to the battleground. I’ll never make it in time to do something… to say something… something that will change everything… something that will bring clarity and ensure a sustainable, healthy future for today’s children and subsequent generations. Something that will improve the quality of life for every, single, one of us.
Even now, there’s a governor on what I want to say. I can feel it, sapping the power from my divergence. Whispering in my chest, making my limbs weary and my spirit half-assed. The other half always offers unsaid commentary, running parallel to the inner monologue.
There’s always another side, responding and mapping in a fraction of a second, sometimes so quickly that it wants to stop the discourse before it begins. But perhaps, it’s okay to just go ahead and say both. That’s where depth comes from; there isn’t simply one surface, one shade. There is more to explore, and to get there faster means casting the governor aside.
I can’t commit, because I’m a student.
Even now, I’m questioning whether this should be published. I think, “am I being a bad student, by portraying the institutionalized system through which we are accredited mastery (supposedly) over modules of guided thought, in a less than thankful light? Am I possibly advocating for another student’s decision to drop out, possibly forgoing a promising path they were up until this point set upon? No… if they were on a promising path, whether or not they remain in school may have little effect. But without the tools school gives them, they may not overcome the resistance to their upward mobility. Oh, the back and forth never ends. Perhaps there is no right perspective. Of course there isn’t. But maybe there is.”