You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘self-identity’ tag.

By Eric

I started writing these “Quarter Life Crisis” posts as a way to a way to unleash my own frustrations. Prior to joining Reactionary Century, I had never really used my writing as a way to explore myself – at least not directly. Over the last few months, however, I pried into myself once a week to explore my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Exploring myself is something that I have always done, but that exploration took place exclusively in my own head, where I could protect my ideas from the outside world.

Once I convinced myself I had something interesting to say, and could hide behind the relative anonymity of a byline, I began writing my thoughts into these weekly posts. Whether or not you, the readers, got anything out of what I had to say, I will probably never know. I don’t need to know.  Although, I certainly hope you gleaned something.

What I do know is that I gained a lot out of writing once a week about myself. The fact that I had an audience, to be quite honest, is irrelevant. I learned about myself and improved myself. I honestly believe I am a better person today that I was when I first started writing “Quarter Life Crisis.”

The reasons for my changes go far beyond writing for this site once a week, but scribbling my thoughts certainly played a role. Life, as everyone knows, and as every cliché teaches, us ebbs and flows. Consistency is hard to find.

As I look back and look forward, I realize that I am ending this writing venture at the perfect time. I don’t really feel like I am in a “crisis” anymore. I haven’t figured anything out, really, but I’m pretty content with that. The angst, cynicism and stress give way eventually, and you realize that you’re just happy with the things you have, as opposed to the things you don’t have.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I am currently ebbing (or flowing? I don’t really know which is the good one…) but I really can’t look at my life in terms of a “crisis” anymore. Whereas a few months ago I needed somewhere to release my insecurities, right now I feel pretty good with where I am (and who wants to read about someone who is happy?).

I’m hanging up my general life musings pen for now, but I will continue to write. I encourage anyone who ever read my thoughts, and realized they felt something similar to write their ideas down. Even if it’s just in a journal. I promise it will be the best decision you ever make.

Quarter Life Crisis has come to a close, but if you want to keep up with Eric you can find his writing on www.tktwincites.com. Or follow him on Twitter to keep up with whatever he is thinking, writing, or doing.

By Nicolle

Know thyself, said the great philosopher Socrates. While that evocation seems trite and menial, to actually pursue such an idea is a great undertaking. As you begin to peel back the layers of yourself, you may find hidden motivations, dirty secrets and shameful mistakes.

I’ve recently realized that my psyche wages an internal war anytime I’m in a relationship. It won’t last, I whisper unconsciously to myself. You can’t keep him. You’re not quite good enough. Remember what happened last time? You’ve seen who he dated before. You know you’ll never measure up.

And so it goes. That voice forces me to analyze every inflection, every tone, every short remark, every glance, every move until I’ve literally given myself a stomachache.

Now, some of that, as I’ve mentioned before, is just a personality trait, one that I’m learning to accept. But the vengeful attack that coerces my thoughts into repetitive formations is more than a natural tendency to think things through. It’s a deliberate attempt at self-sabotage.

I begin to believe those lies whispered to me and I feel strangled. I outwardly act as if nothing is wrong but inside, I’m slowly killing myself.

A good friend of mine recently gave me sound advice. “You’re never going to have it all figured out,” she said. “No matter how many books you read, no matter how many times you try. So, know yourself and stop trying to figure it all out.”

The trick is to balance understanding the baggage and wounds and scars and hurts I bring to a relationship while still living presently.

If I spend all my time trying to be self-actualized, I’ll miss out on what’s actually going on in my relationship. But if I ignore my past experiences and how they impact my actions, I’ll never move past those self-imposed attacks.

An open, willing spirit, I’m learning, is much more valuable than any attempt at self-protection. Once I’m aware that I’m unconsciously feeding myself lies about my worth based on who I am (or am not) dating, what he thinks of me or what’s happened in my past relationships, I can begin to enter my internal battle. I can actively combat whatever line my psyche uses on me next – and I can win.

Note: This is the last Unhooked and Unsettled post that will appear on Reactionary Century, but check out UnhookedandUnsettled.Wordpress.Com to keep following along every Tuesday.

By Eric

A writer pretends to know everything, knows they know nothing, and hopes the reader doesn’t catch onto their trick. I know I know nothing, and that’s why I write.

Being that I am a writer in the loosest sense of the word, I’m not going to claim some insight into the writing process. I’m certainly no visionary of prose. All I know is that when I sit down to write something real, something meaningful to me, writing the first sentence is the hardest part.

The first sentence is too easily chased from your mind like last dewy breaths of summer, leaving you with nothing but yourself and hollow thoughts.

Somewhat ironically, hollow thoughts eventually lead to questions. Which lead to answers. Which lead to more questions. Which lead to words. Which lead to sentences. Which leads me to where I am right now.

As I sit analyzing myself and my lack of any meaningful thoughts to put on the page, I began to question why I would ever want to put myself through such a practice. I’ve never made money writing. I’ve never written anything that stands out on a scope beyond a few wandering compliments. I’ve really never gotten anything out of writing.

But that’s not why I write. I write for me. Selfishly. It’s the only way to think, when you’re collecting your thoughts for the page, because I can assure you, most things that are written are hardly read, and those that are, become cast aside and forgotten within seconds. I know this, and yet I put myself through the wholly torturous process. Even the most inconsequential blog post on the most mundane topic can be the hardest thing you do all day. Or all week. Or all month.

Writing is the ultimate practice in alienation and solitude. It isolates you from your surroundings, and sucks you into yourself. You can pour yourself for hours into something that you put everything you have into; knowing from the start that it probably won’t leave a mark on anyone. Why, after all, would anybody possibly care? They’ll never know how much you put into what you write. And even if they realize how much time it consumed, or how much you stressed over a few hundred words, they’ll never really be able to understand. They can’t. Writing lacks equity. The writer writes, the reader reads, and neither ever really understands the other. Each party is left with only thing they had from the start: their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The two sides met for a moment, and may have left an impression on one another, but each is ultimately left only with themselves.

The reason I torture myself so much with words should become abundantly clear to anyone who knows me. The process explains me completely. The solitude. The alienation. The selfishness.

I spend the majority of my time spewing flippant sarcasm or cracking wise. I can make people laugh and I know this. I can be witty and fun. I’m completely aware of this. In most social settings I’ll play off the group with a few jokes or bad puns. People laugh. It’s fun. And it’s real. It’s certainly the real me, and I enjoy it as much as others seem to.

But at the same time, I know there is another side to how I think. The side that makes me write. The side that alienates and pushes people away. The side that keeps me in solitude.

I open up to no one. At no point in my life have I felt legitimately close to another person. Most of my friends would, without fail, call me generally apathetic. I’m stoic. I’m constantly at an arm’s length. Frankly, I could sit in a room with my friends for hours and literally not say a word without anyone batting an eyelash.

If I’m not making a joke, or feeling in the laughing mood, odds are I’m not going to be the best company.

My complete inability to connect with people is why I write. Why I was drawn to the idea of writing from the beginning. I spend most of my time before, during and after I write wondering why anyone would possibly care what I have to say. It’s the same question I ask before I write anything. I find myself boring. Uninteresting. Devoid of substance. In person, I feel even more boring. More uninteresting. More devoid of substance. And worst of all, more mumbly.

Writing allows me to collect my boring thoughts and put them into a form of expression. When I write, it’s just me at a keyboard. Nobody else is around, so nobody else knows. I’m hiding in plain sight. Words on a page don’t lie.

When you’re writing you can open up to the page without worrying if it will reciprocate. You won’t get hurt. You won’t get laughed at. The page accepts what you say without giving back. You speak your mind and don’t have to worry whether the other side feels the same, or is willing to give back the amount of passion you put in. Writing is the emotional coward’s way out.

Before I began typing this, the only thing that lay before me was a blank page and a blinking cursor. As I finish, all that lies in my wake is bunch of words. Aesthetically, the difference is minimal – black and white versus simply white. But as a form of expression, the difference between a blank page and a full page is impossible to describe.

I know I’ll never write something of particular merit, because merit is all relative. But I know I’ll continue to write. Maybe someday I’ll be able to look another person in the eye and tell them how I feel. Maybe I’ll be able to interact one-on-one in complete comfort. I hope so. Otherwise I’ll be left only with the solitude of writing, and I can’t possibly imagine a less comforting comfort.

By Eric

The Major League Baseball playoffs started yesterday. I’m not unrealistic; I know this is completely meaningless to the majority of people in the world. I, however, am not one of those people.

As a rabid, irrational and, some may say, overly obsessive Twins fan, I revel in this time of year. Between intensely meaningful Twins games, cooler but not cold weather, and Vikings games to fill the time between intensely meaningful Twins games, October is one of the best months of the year.

(Did I mention the intensely meaningful Twins games?)

Anyone who doesn’t really follow sports is probably rolling their eyes right now. (Admit it, you are.) How can a silly game be “intensely meaningful?” You’re watching grown men in silly little matching outfits, try and hit a little ball with a bat. Where’s the meaning in that?

In every imaginable technical sense, this is correct. It’s just a game. Nothing else.

The reality, however, is that to so many people baseball is so much more than a game. Maybe not to the majority of people, but to a certain group it is. Just like how to some people football is more than a game. Or a certain band is more than a band. Or pieces of literature aren’t just words on a page.

This is the part where I unleash a diatribe about the cosmic significance of baseball. And the importance of each little strike, ball, out, hit, error, run, etc. Or this is the part where this post takes a decisive turn for the worst, because I wrote the first 200 words before the Twins lost last night, and the next 600 after they lost. And, as you can tell from looking back on my, um, “colorful” tweets from last night; the game was an emotional roller coaster.

While I sit here finishing this post, I am pissed. Plain and simple. My team just lost. In no uncertain terms, this makes me angry, frustrated, sad, etc. The fact is, however, now I will regroup for the next game, because there are at least two more. (Round one of the playoffs is a best of five series.)

And, really, that is the point I am trying to make. The first thing I ever wrote on this site was, “I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to find the metaphorical significance in mundane things lately.” And the fact is, because baseball has played such a large role in my life, I have always tried to figure out the metaphorical significance in the game.

And that’s because it’s not just a game.

What baseball provides for me can take on so many different forms. Sometimes it’s an escape. Sometimes it’s so much a part of my life that it feels like it represents everything around me. And sometimes (like tonight) it spends about four hours kicking me in the groin and I sit here wondering “why?”

So I spend some time cursing the wrong-doers, nitpicking what went wrong and why, and placing blame upon anyone I can think of.

The fact is, however, tomorrow I will be back rooting on the Twins again. They’re my team, and I would never walk away from that. In fact, every year once the Twins season ends, someone will ask me, “who are you rooting for now?” And my answer is always the same, “nobody.”

Most people find this strange, which is a fact that I find strange. Why, after 162 regular season, and however many postseason, games would I suddenly switch my allegiance? For a phony high? To pretend I am connected to something? Why?

I am a baseball fan, but the Twins are my team. Once they are done, I no longer cheer for a team. I cheer for a moment or a story. To proactively root for someone else would be dishonest. Disloyal. Untrustworthy.

Maybe that’s overblown. Maybe I care too much. Maybe I get a little too worked up during games.

Sometimes, however, a game isn’t just a game. Sometimes it means more. To me at least. And while I can’t make you understand that, and some of you may still be rolling your eyes, it’s true. It’s part of my life. Just like there is some seemingly insignificant something in your life that means a little bit more to you. Whatever that something may be.

On the same night that my team lost, Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no-hitter. To many of you, that means nothing. And, in terms of the Phillies winning, it means about the same to me. But the no-hitter itself, something that has only happened twice in postseason baseball history, meant something. It was special. It was a moment.

You might not understand why this is important, and I probably can’t explain it, but to me it makes perfect sense.

And that’s exactly why it’s not just a game.

By Eric

I’m an English major who hates poetry, thinks Faulkner is annoying and pretentious, and likes sports too much. What does that make me?

I believe in God, but I don’t really know what that means and certainly have no church or religious affiliation I consider myself a part of. What does that make me?

I’ve never had anything remotely resembling a serious relationship, but I spend exactly none of my time in bars or clubs looking to get laid. What does that make me?

I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life, but would hesitate to call myself a Democrat. What does that make me?

I have a small head, long arms, long legs, and a short torso. What does that make me?

My answer to most of those questions is, “I don’t really know.” I suppose, in a kindergarten, after-school-special sort of way, it’s all part of what makes me me. Whatever that means. Just like if you’re Republican who spends your Saturday nights looking to hookup and your Sundays at church, that’s part of what makes you you.

There is a supposed qualitative rightness and wrongness in those descriptions of who you are. An either/or. It’s silly, really. Those simplistic descriptions of where you go, what you do, or what you believe are only snippets of a full picture. Summarily those little descriptions can tell you who someone is, but there are literally an infinite number of descriptions of a person. So many, in fact, that the only person who will ever really, truly know who you are is you.

To some people, the realization that you have to know yourself is probably the most frightening realization in the world. I, for one, take comfort in it. Nobody knows me like me. And I’m not even particularly complex. I’m fairly simple, in fact. But if there is one thing I have, it’s a pretty good grasp of myself, even on days when I have no idea who the hell I am or what the hell I am doing.

And there are a lot of days like that. Days where I sit back and try and assess the success of my life, and think, “wow, I really haven’t done much, eh?”

When I look at the criteria people use to “rate” people’s life: where do you work? (nowhere) seeing anyone? (nope) what did you do this weekend? (nothin’) it would seem my life can be summarized by the nothingness that clearly encompasses it. And sometimes it really does feel that way. But, ultimately, that isn’t true. I’m quite sure of it. Because, ultimately, I know myself.

It is easy to get caught up in what is missing from your life, and certainly much easier than appreciating what you do have, as corny as that sounds. Nobody wants to listen to a guy from an upper middle class family with a college degree talk about the things that are missing from his life, because “the world is his oyster,” so-to-speak.

Sure it may be “hard out there right now,” but anyone with such a well balanced background will obviously figure things out eventually. Things work out. Take a little time to figure out what you want (just don’t take TOO much time), and then I’ll see ya in Suburbia.

From there it’s easy to get caught up in trying to map out the rest of your life. In her Unhooked and Unsettled column, Nicolle wrote about people getting married because they want the rest of their life to start right away. That idea can extend beyond just marriage and into every facet your life.

Graduate. Find a job. Get married. Buy a house. Start a family. Raise a family. Retire. Die living a fulfilled life.

The American Dream.

Maybe you do live that life and it makes you happy. Or maybe you chose to live it because you thought it would make you happy. Or maybe it just filled a gap because you never really took the time to figure out yourself. And then one day you realize you and yourself were merely acquaintances. You met each other, but you never really knew each other.  You never really quite figured out what each other wanted, so you filled your life with what you were supposed to want.

It’s easy to get caught up in it. One day a dream transitioned into reality and the rest of your life arrived. And maybe you were ready for it. Or maybe you weren’t but went with it anyway.

You let your life transition away from what you really want as you move through the motions of the future.

First you dream about the future, then you worry about the future, and then, before you know it, the future arrives. So you get left with a choice. You can either convince yourself that you want the rest of your life to arrive, jump on board and go from there. Or, you can do something different.

You can start the process over because, quite simply, you aren’t quite ready for a future yet. You don’t want the rest of your life to start, because you have the rest of your life for the rest of your life.

That’s where I stand today. Maybe that will change tomorrow. Maybe I’ll meet “the one” and elope. Maybe I’ll stumble across the perfect job opportunity. Maybe I’ll win the lottery, move to San Diego and open a golf course.

Maybe, but probably not.

One day the rest of my life will begin. More likely than not, it won’t be tomorrow. More likely than not, tomorrow will be just like today. Just like most tomorrows. Until that one tomorrow comes that changes everything. But until then, I’ll keep figuring out myself.

So who am I?

I guess I’m just a liberal blasphemer with a small head, long arms, long legs, and a small torso who never gets laid and brings a certain level of shame to the traditional English major.

Who are you?