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How to have an identity.
So I’m 20 and in all honesty I don’t even know where to start when it comes to being the author of my own story so I suppose I’m looking for advice.
For a bit of context I’ve tried all sorts of past times from quite literally being in a circus to attending basket weaving classes. From playing violin to climbing mountains. If you’ve ever heard the song ‘when will my life begin’ from the Disney movie Tangled, that’s pretty much me in a nutshell.
All that is good and well, but I haven’t made anything of value out of my experiences.
The current situation is: I live alone, I have a carte blanche for a social calendar, I’m ok at my uni course but certainly no deans scholar, I’ve saved a bit of money and I own my car. That’s about it.
Of course I’m incredibly privileged to have experienced what I have experienced and to have what I have. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I didn’t deserve any of it because there are people that if they’d had my opportunity would have used it to enrich the world and I’ve sort of just let my experiences be useless.
I have no idea who I am or what I’m doing and so would appreciate some guidance if you feel you could impart some wisdom.
A scrawny, tired, 20 year old who feels like they’re running out of time to find who they are.
Can I suggest firstly that you are doing OK, you are sticking ot your studies and also working. You are sticking to them despite the fact circumstances do not allow you quite the best results you would have liked. So there's something else - handling adversity.
Now it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking one has an identity becuse of something external. I fell into that trap by having a life long ambition for a certain occupation, eventually after a fair degree of success I became ill, was invalided out and lost all my identity in the process. It was devastating.
I mentioned you accomplishments at the start because part of your identity is determination and an ability to see things through. It is these internal things, such as those, kindness, humor, honor and similar that are a person's identity - not a job or a passing interest.
What would you like to be remembered for or why might people seek you out? In my case I'd settle for being kind where I could.
Do you think there might be something to this idea?
Thankyou for your reply! I shall have to give what you said some thought. I think I’d like to be remembered as a life long learner who actualised their knowledge as kindness. I certainly try to be that but I’m not sure how I go. I think some reflection from me is probably overdue.
What an interesting question! I really like the idea of being the author of your own story, though sometimes I wonder if it's something we can properly achieve.
As you described some of the things in your life, it struck me that we probably have similar upbringings and reflections about what value our hobbies and activities really have in the world.
To give you a bit of context, I'm 31 now and it's probably pretty safe to say that my life mirrors the one you have described. I'm sure there are differences between us, but your description seems to match pretty well.
Croix offered a good way of rethinking identity into something internal rather than external, and your response sounds intriguing.
Something I've started to do as well is to actually take my focus away from identity, at least in terms of putting it at the centre of my value. It is certainly helpful to reflect and use what we want our identity to be as a compass of sorts, but I feel like there are so many hidden aspects to myself that it seems time is better spent trying to discover these, than to build something new. After all, it's hard to build something up if you don't know what you are even starting with.
So I tend to think that the more experiences you give yourself, the more you start to understand about what pieces, like lego pieces, you are starting with. And the more you know about which pieces make you up, the better you can then try to build from there.
Which is a really long way to say that I think you're actually doing the right things by giving things a go, asking questions, and trying to reflect on what's important. All these things will help illuminate more about yourself, so a future-you will have a better understanding to work with. I know it feels like you're running out of time to find who you are, but I suspect it may be a bit of a lifelong journey, and is one that we all take. Hopefully, one we can share with each other as we go along.
Thankyou for your response James. That’s a really interesting perspective re: identity being a life long thing as opposed to time bound. It’s made me think haha. I think I probably need to be a bit introspective about the little things as I find myself becoming worried about the big picture with relative frequency. Thanks Again.