Everyone Is Obsessed With Having An Identity–They Can't See When It's Gone Too Far

Everyone Is Obsessed With Having An Identity–They Can't See When It's Gone Too Far

The thing I thought I needed almost destroyed me.

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Many people have some form of obsessive identity. It seems to be the way the world works now. You must BE something. If you associate with a certain socio-economic status, body type, friend group, sport, profession, health hobby, etc. you have a greater sense of belonging and humans crave acceptance. It's part of our nature to feel like we add to something, that our existence is important for a very specific reason. We want proof of it. And as much sense, as it makes, it's simultaneously unfortunate how far people will go to fulfill this need.

I specifically use "obsession" because the rigidity associated with the sort of mindset comes with a do it all or do nothing mentality. A particular lifestyle accompanied by an innate desire. It starts small, under the impression it is normal, that it's positive, fulfilled by the innocent desire to be "known." But the thing is, a reputation can only go so far and when it is motivated by the opinion of others it will never be sustained. Before you know it, the thing you thought dependent on well-being slowly begins to take away instead of give.

Sooner or later the thing you could not live without becomes toxic. The pure thought of doing or engaging in activities once craved feels like work; an added pressure, stripped of its initial purpose and revealed for the meaning it had all along. Coping, control, distraction, approval. Whether the identity found itself in an eating disorder, like it did for me, or something else, the implications can be surprisingly similar. It has lost all of its purpose and passion and inspiration and has instead become a suffocating reality. Anything that was once a necessity we begin to run away from - searching for something else to give us the same high without the feelings of expectancy. It's like we hit a wall, slapped back into reality, reminded that we can't keep this up forever.

I was absolutely the thoughts, orders, assumptions, rules, beliefs, routines, patterns, and expectations of my eating disorder. I chose to please "it" over living my life and I chose to listen to "it" over the people who knew me. When I thought about it coming to an end, I was so terrified I couldn't indulge in the concept too long. Repeatedly, I would say "just keep going." One day at a time was all I had.

My body's physical chemistry was too weak to consider anything above that. I was a puppet to the master of my mind. Told to jump and run and eat less. To count and track and remember. The numbers, the right foods, the weight - it was all something to measure. And for this, happiness was measured as well. It depended on my behavior, my competency, my own perfectionist tendencies. I had let the voice in for so long that the obsessions felt normal, the nasty words were expected, and the habits were comforting. I did not know who I was if I was not "it."

"Who wants to recover? It took me years to get that tiny. I wasn't sick; I was strong."
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

I identified with the new person I had become and I couldn't imagine living any other way. But like most, and not of my choosing, it was coming to an end; I was on the brink of my life exploding. Sad and nervous and anxious and exhausted. I barely had the energy to hold it in - I was tired, sleep was just about the only easy thing and even that didn't always happen. People wouldn't stop asking if I was okay.

The thing I thought I needed, my niche, my specialty, my weird rules were overpowering me each day. I was both desperate to change and convinced that I could not. Towering over me the truth of anorexia - body image fears, food guilt, restriction urgencies. The idea that without the tendencies, I was nothing. It wasn't just "not good enough," it was NOTHING.

That's the thing about identities, they consume your entire being and imagining life without them is challenging. Adopting an identity with balance, one that encourages a whole sphere of learning, opportunities, and goals is hard. Having one thing, one obsession is a whole lot easier, but it changes things for the worse. It forces you to give up your values, convinces you that it is more important, leads you to ignore reality, makes you blind to the world; that is the obsession. The line between finding an identity and feeding an addiction is the all-encompassing environment it entails.

My question now is why everyone, including myself, is so set on being ONE thing and why it became so popular to pour your life into it in the first place. Everyone already has an identity, forcing one is unnecessary.

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another — not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that.

Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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Past Legal And Modern Social Apartheid

An opinion piece on past legal Apartheid in South Africa and how it is socially reflected in the United States.

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When stepping inside of a solitary cell at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, I felt a tightness in my chest and wanted to leave that small space immediately; imagining a Black South African who broke the pass laws during Apartheid being in there is beyond disturbing. Due to laws such as the Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923, the Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951, and the Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970, Black South Africans during Apartheid were extremely limited in where they could live, detrimentally affecting their economic and employment opportunities. When touring the former Constitutional Hill prison, the guide told us that, when Black South Africans were caught without passes permitting their stay in Joburg for the day and/or night, they spent 5 days in prison, along with murderers and others who committed serious crimes. If caught multiple times breaking these pass laws, they would spend 5 years in this prison. Most of those who violated these pass laws were unemployed or sought better employment in Joburg; this is understandable, as a person has a better chance of having a job by being there physically. When thinking further about the lack of opportunity they suffered from due to the aforementioned laws creating this effect, this legal repercussion becomes further and further disturbing. Additionally, this also directly led to the creation of "White" and "Black" areas, where Whites lived in areas of better opportunity (ex. cities, suburbia), and Blacks were subjected to living in poverty and townships where there was limited economic and employment opportunities.

This lack of opportunity is echoed in the U.S. when looking at socially designated "White" and "Black" areas. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman essentially because he thought Martin "was not where he belonged", which was in a nice suburban area. As a person of color myself, I have been stared at in museums, followed in stores, and once at 12 years old kicked out of a shop (I did not do anything wrong), because I "stuck out". In this way, society told me (and violently told Martin) that we don't belong in those areas, that we "belong" in ghettos or prison; the racial demographics of populations in U.S. prisons will support me here. Therefore, by society socially designating where people "belong", not only do they bind themselves in their own ignorance, but also prevent people of color from sharing the same access to plentiful life and economic opportunity.

References

Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923: Prevented Black South Africans from leaving designated area without a pass. The ruling National Party saw this as keeping Whites "safe" while using Blacks for cheap labor.

Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951: Allowed Black South Africans to enter the building industry as artisans and laborers. Restricted to "Native" areas. Prevented competition between Whites, Coloureds, and Blacks. Could not work outside a designated area unless given special permission.

Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970: All Black South Africans would lose their South African citizenship/nationality over time. Would not be able to work in "South Africa" due to being aliens. Black South Africans would have to work inside their own areas and could only work in urban areas if they had special permission from the Minister.


South African History Online. "Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s." South African History Online, South African History Online, 11 Apr. 2016, www.sahistory.org.za/article/apartheid-legislation....

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