What Is Identity?

Identity, What's The Bigger Picture?

The doors are open, please, don't step on anyone on your way in.

Sean Shoemaker Instagram: useyourimaginasean

It's not a secret that you face a challenging road ahead of you in your 20's. Everyone pays their dues during that time of life, but I think it's not outrageous to say that now is just as challenging of a time as it ever has been.

Economically, we live in what's hailed as the "peak of capitalism", stocks are (generally) doing okay, barring the circumstances of the whole trade war between the United States and China, but that's neither here, nor there in terms of what this essay is about. Never before across the globe have we made so much progress to lift people out of abject impoverishment. The world is becoming a smaller place that's much more connected now than it ever has been. People in first world countries may not see that, but it's truly something we should champion, not disparage, this as a major accomplishment of the global community we now find ourselves in. While it hasn't necessarily had the same impact here in America for instance, wages have grown across the globe. People are beginning to feel a little bit of relief, and we shouldn't ever discount the value in that. Yes, pun intended. We also live in a time of contentment where we look back on our accomplishments as a society and individuals and marvel at how far we've come technologically speaking too. It's a time of possibilities that more people than ever have access to, and that's nothing (unless you like scoffing) to scoff at.

Politically, we live in a relatively stable as far as the international discussion goes, barring the potential trade war between the United States, and China, there's not a ton of turmoil and unrest going on. It's fascinating to think that 100 years ago we were experiencing a war unlike any in scale to its time, a plague devastating millions and thousands of people dying daily. While the tide of conservatism, liberalism, and progressiveness ebb and flow with the commitments of democracies, we see just on the other side of the planet people who are being fed state-run propaganda to the tune of worshiping (literally) a Chinese Communist party. On the other side of the coin in my hometown just this week, I've witnessed a censorship of young journalists I went to the same high school as, a reminder of how close we constantly live to a state of chaotic lack of control for the people who rule it's nation. It's a time of "can-do" mentalities where once we can, we never do much as special interests lobby into the forefront. The tides of politics are as unpredictable as the weather on Jupiter to us, and while that's terrifying, it's also a massive door more people than ever have a chance to get there voices through too.

Socially, it's the most confusing time the majority of us live in. Do we live in a post-modernism era, or not? What do friendships mean to us? Are they simply a follow, or click away from being something truly special? Are they the relationships we forge with our co-workers, our classmates, family, and those we surround ourselves within our communities? Are the friends we have now the friends we will have in ten, twenty, thirty years? While we would all like to say yes, yes, yes, it's too unpredictable of a time to say. In the most challenging decade of my life, so my respectable elders say, where do we find a way to fit ourselves into our own vision of the bigger picture? It's hard, nay, impossible to nail down a solid answer to this question as everyone's emotional intelligence, behavior, and demeanor all come down to every circumstance, decision, and situation they've found themselves in leading up to the very moment of reading the words on their screen in front of them right now. The good news: The gates are open, and admission is free. See a trend here?

It's not easy to be young, in your mid-life, or old. It never has been, and each segment of our lives brings it's challenges to the table for us to decipher. I don't think it will ever be easy to conduct ourselves through the experience of life, because life is a timeline of tests, challenges, and experiences that shape us and form our perspective of who we are, what we do and say, where we're going, and most importantly, why we find ourselves in these situations doing the things we do and say the things we say in the places we're at in life. I think that's how it should be though. It is SO important to challenge yourself daily and push yourself to be a better person through any task, experience or person we find ourselves in front of, because if we didn't we would be stagnating with the precious little time we have. With that on the mind, I think it's also important we understand how we are constantly shaping our identity through said experiences we navigate our lives through. One time I interviewed a musician who grew up in Zent, Arkansas. A very small town in the state with less than a thousand people, and one thing that still rings very true to me that he said: "Every decision you have ever made, every moment that you made those decisions, has led you to where you're standing right now." That's powerful stuff when you really reflect on your personal experiences and where you find your shoes placed right now. Sincere apologies to those who don't wear shoes.

Whether you're from Zent, Arkansas, or Manhattan, New York, you are a living, breathing amalgamates of the past experiences that have led you to this moment right now. That's pretty cool to think about. I think it's easy to forget who we are when it seems like everything that happens in the world impacts those around us in various ways. It seems like there's a new disaster every day, and it shouldn't be glanced over that every single thing can take a toll when you really care about what you're watching. We can be fatigued to the point of complacency. It's very, very easy to fall into that trap. I think anyone can find a point in their life where they can admit to that feeling. I'm not the single moral authority on the matter to say we should or shouldn't fall into that, because it's human to fall into that mentality, especially with the environment we live in today where everything seems like an echo chamber of confirmation bias. If there weren't people that didn't care we wouldn't be able to see the people that do care.

What shapes who we are is where we decide to care with the time that we have, in any shape, or scale. When we accomplish something, it gives us meaning. Life is a compilation of the meandering process, and achieving accomplishments through those processes, regardless of the outcome we hope for. It's okay to feel exhausted because everyone does. It's okay to care because we all do have a passion for something, and that's a beautiful thing that we humans are capable of when we organize too. Our identity comes from those processes, the times we feel exhausted, the times we REALLY care, and when we accomplish something. It's shaped by how we make decisions through all of those times, and who we decide to give an ear to and surround ourselves with. The whole idea of you becoming who you surround yourself with has some salt to it. While at this point this essay is pretty convoluted, I think it's important we all have some time to write these kinds of thoughts out as much as we can. It gives a person a little limelight on how to develop their thoughts, and maybe it rings true to a couple of other people that give you the time of day to read your thoughts.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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