The Paper Lion
Personal

Identity Capital

We live in a rushed society, where life is a game and if you play by the rules (more importantly bend) then you will be rewarded with freedom and satisfaction, either now or in the far future once you become successful. We all want freedom, and most believe if they just work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone that you can accomplish anything. More specifically I think this sort of mentality is driven by our psychological needs to feel valued and loved, and since we have had the breakdown of community everywhere, we convey this through “self expression.” Usually this expression means buying things that supposedly reflect your values, beliefs and basically your identity; “look at this private jet”, or “check out my designer jeans” as we try to convey we are people of distinction and therefore worth.

I was very strange as a kid, growing up in a small rural town where almost all the other kids lived on surrounding farms, I spent a lot of time alone entertaining myself or making crafts with my mom. As a consequence I not only wasn’t socialized as much as a kid from an urban area, I also never bought into pressure from any ‘peers.’ I dressed how I wanted to dress, and I acted how I wanted to act, at least for the most part. I also spent a considerable amount of time reading and contemplating, just thinking about the world or enjoying it through play. I reckon I was somewhat of a cosmopolitan even as a child, I remember sometimes feeling immense emotion towards the “world,” I think I was just really grateful and (being naive) thinking the world out there was a vast, magical and wonderful place.

After moving away from there, and after twenty-some odd years those sort of sentiments seemed to have had completely faded away. I went through some dark periods, but in retrospect it is probably safe to say it was all in my head, the dark thoughts; I was emotionally immature and I thought I had it so bad when in reality I didn’t. It has been a long journey out of that space I was in, but I’m grateful. I have taken longer than most to get to the same places in life, but I don’t feel like it is a race. The benefit of taking my time, of having time to reflect and time alone to be independent and to make my own decisions, has been to be truly free to make my own decisions. In essence I was never sucked into the social pressures to go through all the milestones by certain ages to be considered “successful.”

I use to subscribe to some expectations of course, I would look to norms and other avenues of morality to guide me. However I think after all this time I have finally come into my own, I make my own decisions and I own up to them proudly. I feel no need to get on the hamster wheel of a 9 to 5 job, or to even settle down and have a family, I look down on convention because it is just not for me and that is my choice. I may not have a lot of belongings to show off, but I don’t feel the need to convey what or who I am. I don’t feel the need to compare myself to others, to evaluate or judge others either. I judge myself by my own standards, not the ones given by society at large, I believe I have the courage and conviction to follow my own path and not to have any regrets.

I guess I am an idealist rather than a materialist if I had to absolutely categorize myself, I take pleasure in simple things but also of intangible things like the abstract (or “big ideas” if you will) and I feel no shame in this. I feel rich rather than being monetarily so, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. If the latter ever did change, I would hope the former would never fade.