Who am I?
And who do you think I am?
What describes identity? I would imagine it to be a culmination of factors, but in the hopes of being socially sound, I perceive identity as the traits that define you, as viewed from a variety of angles. As with many things in this world, the main force that would drive your identity is how the majority of people look at you. Taken from this perspective, your own self identity would not matter, as well as your identity as seen from the few discerning eyes which are not in consensus with the majority. All that matters is how the majority of people see your identity. How the “majority” of people see and understand you. Majority wins. Democracy. Voice of the people. This has been the defining trend of the ages. This is how the world works.
If this is really how the world works, the world should just break.
If I am not allowed, or it is taboo, to live my life according to my means, then what reason is there to live my life according to my means? By this logic, why should I have individualistic desires, if the monotonous lot would argue to have their desires forced into you? These are very odd questions to make especially in the information age we reside in right now. There are valid benefits to straying away from the norm, and there are anecdotal examples. I feel though that they are the exceptions rather than the rules. In fact… wait, I’m not stating a fact. Let me try to express to you my “belief”, with my own anectodal observations considered, that the current setup of the world’s society, rather than promoting individualism as a way of life, actually forces singularity of purpose. And this is a hidden but dangerous double-edged sword that cuts through the very fabric of the identity of people who are more than aware that they are being robbed of happiness, primarily because they “are aware” of this.
I am aware, and I am robbed of happiness.
Shortly after being rejected by my tsundere meganekko, some of my friends consoled me, saying things like “you’ll find someone soon”. That moment was quite a shock for me, because it indicated that the word had gone out. I thought my confession was between me and tsundere meganekko, but somehow either I (by my awkward actions toward the girl afterwards) or she told someone about it, purposely or incidentally. I realized then that the pain that I had to withstand was not only the pain of rejection, but of ridicule. In silence, I would understand that people around me are silent about the situation, but they do know to a certain degree of assumption, that I was rejected by that girl. They may not know the circumstances, but they know the big picture. To that social circle, that was my identity.
Let’s amplify that simple example of mine in terms of social media as it stands today. In the facebook, people look happy. But that is the result of my assumption. The truth is… I… really… don’t… know. I just assumed. People will always assume, this is the only way to conclude something if you don’t have the full details. What does it mean really? It means that everything is not what it seems. You think we’re living in the most connected times of our lives? Nope. We are in the most “disconnected” times of our lives. By human nature, I will not share my innermost sadness, especially out in public. By fear of ridicule, I will not share half of myself (because sadness is part of self-identity), I will only share the other half (because this is the happiness part). I guess the name speaks for itself, as we only see people’s identity by their face value, and judging by the cover of their book.
Glass-half-empty as it may sound, but this kind of negative thinking is valid. In the end, many cannot express themselves fully because they are afraid. One wrong move, and you will be victim of a stigma. Post yourself wasted-drunk in social media, and who will dare hire you in their company? Open up your homosexual preference, and the whole complexion of how you’re being perceived changes. Otakus? They are in hiding too, did you even think otherwise?
So you may argue that wasted folks can just laugh it off, or gay people can be successful – see X gay person as an example, and otakus can be accepted too, like Danny Choo. That’s the thing. This is the knee-jerk argument to the absolute lie that is “be yourself”. These are, what I said earlier, anecdotal examples. The exceptions to the rule. They had a perfect storm of world-conspiration in order to overcome the negative publicity. That drunkard may have chanced upon an HR rep that perfectly understands being drunk. That gay person may have met his/her companion who is also gay. That otaku may have had proper backing from the people around in order to live through life with deserved happiness. So this is the recipe: in order to make a successful identity out of something non-mainstream, you just need the “perfect situation”. So… that is impossible then. For every 1% of perfect (or almost-perfect) situations, there are the 99% situations of potential failure. I am the 99%.
Back to myself. Knowing all this, I attempted to create my self-identity anyway, as futile as it may sound. After multiple attempts at a love life, I set it aside and focused on something else. I thought I decided with great conviction that this is my own path to take, my own sky to fly on. To sum things up, I started to focus on my work, my career. It’s currently the bane of my existence. I am good at it, I am obssessed with it. Unfortunately, this decision didn’t pass without judgment from those people around me. I still hear the prejudices of my family, my relatives, my social circles. “Why are you still single? Get a life.” They seem to be forcing me through that mainstream path of happiness that they are oh so familiar with – get a family and kids. This is my situation, and I am trapped.
This is only the beginning of the attack. Once they are not convinced that your identity is up to their liking, they would want to pry into you more. While this is sometimes beneficial, it still doesn’t provide a full picture. So, my hobbies are games and anime. Majority would say… time-wasters. “Stop playing your stupid games. Stop watching your useless anime. Get a life.” They are forcing me to believe that “getting a life” means denying what I want in life. Again, “be yourself” is an absolute lie. “Not being yourself” is their prescrpition to your problem. The best answer they could give. This means that they have given up on you, and they will attack your seeming stubborness to not want to take action. Again, using assumptions, we can only formulate an imperfect solution for a problem.
So… dare you tell me. With your incomplete information about me, dare you tell me. With your social media smoke and mirrors, dare you tell me. Dare you tell me what’s right and wrong about me. Dare you force me into the things you want for me. Dare you force me. So you tell me that I’m not working hard for the things I want in life. Or you tell me that I’m working hard for things that don’t matter at all. Dare you tell me. You tell a homeless person that if they work hard enough, they will succeed. Dare you tell them that it’s their fault that they are starving. Dare you tell them. The reality is, you cannot control a situation. No matter how you brainwash yourself that you can control (and if you took action, that you are in control), you cannot control a situation. All you know is the identity, which is an incomplete picture of what, who, and why a person is what, who, or why he/she is.
So, what describes identity? If it is merely an incomplete picture of a life, based on assumptions of a person’s traits, beliefs and ideals, which are filtered by the fake happiness of the social environment, hiding all of its taboos and stigmas, not representative of the true self, by reason of not having the perfect situation for it to flourish, and are prone to personal attack, whether it be done in silence or in public view, by the very biases of the majority…
Then who do you think I am?
And who am I?