“The soul’s made of stories, not atoms.” – The Doctor in The Rings of Akhaten
I’ve been thinking a lot about identity. Who we are, who we think we are, and who people think we are.
The Dissonance of Identity
It’s happened to all of us at one point. A friend or family member says something is “typical you” and it shocks you. “How could they think that?”
When my wife was younger, her family would by her cow themed presents. She says that once she mentioned that one cow was cute; her family swears that she loved cows. That’s a perfect example of the dissonance between who we think we are and who others think we are. “I don’t like cows” compared to “She loves cows.”
There’s a disconnect between what the three parts of yourself. I’m sure there are technical terms for it but I’ll just make it up. There’s the Self Identity, the Projected Identity, and the True Self.
Forget about the last one. By the time you have discovered and understood the True Self, you’ve already altered it.
The other two are important to understand, both in life and in fiction. A good villain thinks he’s the hero. Think about that… Go ahead I have time…
Yeah you could be the villain in someone else story. The truly depressing fact is, you have been at some point.
There are two ways to look at this, you either accept that it’s part of you or you deny the effect of other people’s opinions on your life.
I know I’ve done some stupid things and I’m not proud of everything but I am sorry.
To everyone who has seen me as the villain in their story: I’m sorry. (And thank you for reading my blog.)
When I was young, I hated green olives, or I thought I hated them. Then one day I decided to try one. Something had changed and suddenly my mouth was telling me I liked green olives.
As human beings we change and a lot of the time we don’t notice. This applies to everything in our lives. However our perception of ourselves doesn’t always change with us.
That’s what makes me still think of myself as an Improv player, despite the fact that I haven’t played in over a decade. The realization that you aren’t who you thought you were can painful.
Being a fan a decade or two ago was simple for me. I was a Trekkie. No doubt about it, no second guessing nothing. I built my identity, morals, and knowledge of story structure around the shows. From 1987 to 2002, I lived and breathed Star Trek.
If someone were to ask me the same thing now, I’d reply that I’m a Geek. It’s not that I love Star Trek any less, it’s that I have so many other Fandoms that I don’t have the time or energy to list them out.
There are fandoms that I’m not part of but still enjoy the source. I like Star Wars but I wouldn’t consider myself a Jedi, Warsy? Whatever they call themselves.
When I was about to go to high school, I was terrified to be placed in the wrong group. Television, books, and movies had trained me to think high school kids were sorted into categories. Boy was I shocked when I realized that it never happened. Sure there were cliques and groups but they weren’t categorized and the groups consistently shifted.
In a world that tells you, consistently, that you must be one thing, it’s hard to realize I’m not just one thing.
I will attempt to list all my fandoms at the end of the post. *
As confusing and as painful not knowing or being wrong about who you are is, it’s nowhere as devastating as realizing you aren’t who you wanted to be.
At every part of your life, you’ve looked toward the future and said, “That’ll be me someday.” Some people even achieve those goals but most won’t.
Interestingly the idea of what we are going to be seems to be tied with turning 30. It’s not everyone but when people say, “When I grow up.” It’s around 30 that they are thinking or in the very least 30 is when we stop pushing the age back.
I’ve noticed a lot of friends being upset that they aren’t who or what or where they wanted to be. I understand. When I was 5 I wanted to be a taxi driver by now. When I was 10 I wanted to be Paleontologist by now. When I was 15 I wanted to be a robotic expert by now. When I was 20 I wanted to be a media theorist. When I was 25 I wanted to be alive.
Other than that last one, I haven’t really succeeded at becoming what I wanted to become.
It hurts, you feel like you haven’t accomplished enough. Seen enough of the world, or changed it enough.
You’re not alone
You know what?
It’s ok, if you aren’t where you thought you’d be.
It’s ok, if you’re not who you thought you’d be.
And it’s ok if you’re not who thought you were.
The important thing to remember is to Keep Moving Forward. (Yeah I just reference Disney. You got a problem?)
Don’t wallow in pity or fear. Analyze and mobilize yourself. Figure out what you like about yourself and concentrate on improving it, figure out what you hate about yourself and concentrate on accepting it. Talk to friends and family, or even a professional if you need to, it’s ok not to know.
I know what I want to be and where I want to be in ten years but it took me a while to figure it out.
* I started listing everything and it devolved into listing everything I like a lot. Here’s the partial list, I’m sure I’ve forgotten plenty of things.
Browncoat, Bronie, Trekkie, Gater, Whovian, Fiver, Scoobie, Whedonite, Nerd Fighter, Beard Lover, Fullerite, Supernatural fan, Superwholockian, Schlocker, Playgrounder, Phineas and Ferb fan, Weekender, Kim Possible Fan, Backie, Loki’s army, Baker Street Irregular, Potthead, Ringer, Amberite, Dresdenite, Gaimanite, Gamer, Goblin, Tortallan, Rush fan, David Usher Fan, Shakespeare lover, Robert Frost Fan, Reader, Minion, Disney fan, Stephen King Fan, Winter fan, Superhero fan, Android, Ubuntu, Gadgets,…