I remember as a kid the teacher would ask us to stand up and describe ourselves in French. I couldn’t even describe myself in English, how would I be able to do it in another language? Maybe it was me, maybe I would think too hard about the question. I could just list off all the superficial things. That’s not me though is it? I’m tall, I have black hair, that doesn’t really give me an identity. It just describes what I look like.
People will always tell you how they are comfortable with themselves, how they really like to get to know themselves. Like those hippies that go to India to find themselves. It’s like a deeper essence, man, one you just can’t understand until you’ve lived in India for 20 years, lost your passport and developed an Indian accent. Then again it could just be my own cynicism. My own struggle to find an identity.
When you grow up in a multi cultural place like I did, you are surrounded by people who identify with where they come from. They do things because that’s what they do back home. If you don’t belong to one of them groups you feel like you don’t have any identity. I think not having an identity makes you think too much. You start wondering about deeper meanings and how we all live in a superficial world dominated by labels.
And here I am yet again. Having another label put on me. The woman opposite me is talking but I am not listening. She’s telling me that I need to try harder to find a job. That I am not making the effort. So right now, that’s me. Unemployed. Some might say useless. I am trying though. She just can’t see that from behind her little desk. She tells me I have to find a job or they’ll take my money away. What will I be called then?
My brother has done well for himself. He went off to university, did a gap year volunteering in a village somewhere poor people live. He grew a beard, wore flip flops for a few years while wandering around Asia. Then he came back, shaved his beard off and walked straight into a well paying job, found himself a wife. So as well as being unemployed, all I ever hear is “why can’t you sort your life out and be like your brother?”.
I don’t dislike him, he’s my brother, I love him. He’s done himself, but the last person I ever want to be is him. It’s just not me. If I had the money I’d leave tomorrow. I’d head in one direction and just keep going. Leaving all these people behind. I wouldn’t grow a beard though, and I’d probably have to test the theory on finding oneself in India. I’m sure copious amounts of pyschedelic drugs help in all that.
It’s strange really. When I was really young I had it all mapped out. I was going to do exactly what my brother has done. I had a plan and I was going to be just like half the people out there. I’m not sure exactly when it changed, but there came a point when I rebelled and decided that I wasn’t going to be everyone else, I was going to be me, and if you didn’t like it then that’s your problem.
Therein lay the problem. I had and still have no idea who I am and what I am doing. When you go against those societal norms people tend to call you names such as ‘waster’ or if they’re being particularly nice ‘fuck up’. People tell me that I’m clever and that I am wasting my life. I don’t really see it that way though. I’m just on a journey of self discovery. Even though I haven’t really discovered much.
This is based on someone that I knew growing up. A lot of what he said made sense but was also a bit contradictory. I am not sure what he is doing these days but even though I didn’t always agree with him, his cynicism and pseudo philosophical views always made me laugh. In this passage I’ve tried to imagine how he would be thinking today.