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Friday, October 31, 2008

Utahn #2: Building Identity

A person is a mangle of emotions, ideas and subjectivity. No two people match in their outlook on life, their philosophies or other beliefs. Each and every one of us build our own singular identities based on one of a kind experiences that may be similar to millions of others, but remain yours and only yours. Out of these millions of minutes of unique experience comes a singular human being among billions of singular human beings.

The search for a coherent identity is nothing new; it's part of the human condition. From a child up to late teens, we are out for the most self-assuring, life elevating experience we can find. Through religion, politics, social interaction, drugs, alcohol, sports, etc, we look for a concrete foundation to base our life upon. Naturally, finding what fits us is hit-and-miss and brings with it a lot of pain, aloneness and confusion. Some people never end up finding it; some find only parts of it and ride along through life with half-a-philosophy. It's up to your perception if a good amount of people or very few people have a fulfilling base (the biggest argument would come from the religious perspective), and that in itself comes from finding yourself.

Utah fits into my self-identification at the current end (never know when it may change) of a long and very turbulent road. Raised with two sisters, a mother who was a homemaker until a few years ago and a father who worked countless hours for the betterment of his family, my experiences of masculinity were out of the ordinary. My alone time with my dad was always great, but it often went hand-in-hand with his job, where I worked often as a runner. Through him it was hard to gauge the exact meaning of being a man. He absolutely was the epitome of the breadwinner; working no less than ten hours a day for months on end, working out deals and kicking ass left and right to get the job done. It was the home aspect that he lost me on (and eventually would led to the shaping of my views on family interaction). There peace was more often the goal than solving the underlying issue. More often than not this came up in sibling rivalry and accusations of parental coddling. I won't say who or what or whatever, but in short a hold-cold war was the norm. Also, while at home and quite understandable, my herculean father focused more on recharging, relaxing and enjoying lazy time with his children. Pro-active interaction (showing how to fix something, playing ball, doing guy crap) got less and less as he took on more responsibility and wanted more downtime (I want to make sure you readers know I blame him for nothing, as any action he did different would have shaped me). It was in this very loving, but mixed atmosphere that I was raised.

During the eight to ten years of this search, the majority of the time I was a timid, shy personality. My nerves had my social life on the back burner as my comfortableness with socialization, and my ability to socialize, were severely retarded. Again, this was not my parents fault, this was just how I was and how I made myself. Friends were hard to come by. One group of friends I had in my last year of elementary turned on me nary a semester into high school. Through that rejection I found a new group of friends and ended up with one lasting friendship, so rejection wasn't always bad, but it did sting. High school, like elementary, was awkward more so because of my social retardness along with the normal hashing out of juvenile identity cliques. I was in a very mixed group that included a genius electronics student, a computer programmer, my lasting musician friend, a future skilled auto mechanic and me, the proto-emo semi-political wannabe filmmaker. This was my cushion during the last years of high school. A group of friends that I could count on at school, and one I could count on beyond school. It wasn't much, but it was enough. It was during this time my politics was building, and like any good student I was on the far left. Music about loss and hurt took up my knowledge more than war and economics, but it seemed I was versed more in the second oldest profession than most people around me, which only fueled my arrogant notion that I knew everything. Grasping the meaning of a masculine identity was far out of my reach during this time. I had no idea what it was or how it could improve my life, but once it hit, like seeing those Utah mountains basked in the glow of the glorious sun, it would bring a completeness and stability on which a deeper being could be built upon.

College was the beginning of the transformation. Starting, oddly enough, with the re-election of President Bush in 2004, my mindset began to shift away from dependence. It was midnight and I laid upon the couch staring at the President's victory over John Kerry. I looked at it and came to the conclusion that democracy is not the highest form of government. I came to the conclusion that government itself could not hold the mantel of social justice. It was up to the people as a whole to achieve that justice without government tainting it with compromise and power brokering. Anarchism was the way. From there I found that independence was the way. Over the next three years. in increments, I wanted more and more freedom. My mind took it to absurd levels, as juvenile understanding of politics usually does, but by the end of my college years in 2007 I was beginning to find a concrete, mature, masculine identity. I was finding that my mind was becoming more and more focused, my views more detailed and my heart tamed, yet strong. This was the beginning of being honest about who I am, about knowing who I am, and using that knowledge to advance myself into the real world ready to take it on. It would be in Utah that everything would come together in a single, coherent being.

Related Post: Utahn #1: Finding Identity

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