By Kenneth Justice
~ “Honestly Kenneth, some days I’m just not sure who I am…”
That is what a young man said to me at coffee recently. At twenty four years old he graduated college earning a good degree, he followed the career path set out for him, but he’s now questioning himself in relation to who he is and what he wants out of life.
Have you ever woke up and wondered who you are? For some of us it may seem like a strange question but for many others it is something they ask themselves quite often;
—) I’ve known a number of women who devoted their lives to mothering and when the youngest child turned eighteen…they felt lost and didn’t know who they were
—) I’ve known men and women who hit retirement age and once they stopped working at their career; they didn’t know what to do with themselves
—) I’ve known a lot of people who after graduating college found that the career path they were pursuing wasn’t what they thought it would be or simply wasn’t satisfying enough
Figuring out who we are is one of the central most important issues we will deal with in our lives.
Finding ourselves is arguably one of the most discussed concepts in relation to today’s young adults; countless books and essays are being written about millennial’s (those born between 1977-1996) and the major lack of identity that so many of them (us) struggle with in relation to work, career, relationship and other integral components of life.
For many years religion was a an integral component within our culture used to imbue that ethereal sense of significance within young adults as it connected them to a sense of purpose, meaning, and identity. However, in recent years the percentage of people who feel burned out by religion (i.e. often Christianity) has increased exponentially as many young adults say they feel that modern religions are either boring, irrelevant, intolerant, sexist, or all of the above.
Since I started writing this blog earlier in the year much of my time has been spent ‘finding my voice’. Sure, I’ve been writing since I was very young….. But connecting what I love to write about and what people want to read, can in many ways be a herculean task. There are many days that I write extremely lengthy articles and when I get to the finish line I realize that I’m probably the only person interested in reading about the particular subject. Yesterday for instance I wrote a 4000 word paper on genocide in relation to bible… and while I enjoyed writing the piece….I wondered; who wants to actually read what I have to say about genocide and religion; probably nobody!
Finding our voice and our identity is compounded by the out-of-whack societal problems we have to deal with in Western Culture. Take for instance the sad fact that sex sells; I know that if I write about sex I’ll get a 50% increase in traffic for the day as opposed to discussing the subject of identity. Thus, all of us our faced with the problematic issue of pragmatism; if we sacrifice our integrity we can get ahead. Not that there is anything wrong with discussing sex….but talking about nothing except sex day-after-day merely to get more traffic to my site seems disingenuous.
If we sacrifice our integrity we can get ahead;
—-) Beautiful men and women can use nothing but their looks to get ahead
—-) Media outlets can get more people to watch their shows and read their magazines if they focus on trivial celebrity gossip
—-) Bloggers can attract more readerships by writing about only controversial subjects
I’m not suggesting those things are bad to do; there’s nothing inherently wrong with a beautiful person being a model… is there? But rather I’m pointing out the fact that it if we aren’t careful, we can end up letting society and those around us dictate who we are; rather than finding out who we are on our own.
I’ve always been fond of the story about a famous NFL Running Back who made millions of dollars playing American Football but never liked playing the sport. Numerous articles were written about him that said he only pursued the sport because he was good at it and because everyone told him he should do it…..but for him; being a football player wasn’t who he was. When he cut his career short many of his fans were furious….they only knew him as a football player; they couldn’t understand that was simply not who he really was.
As I go down the final stretch of my first year blogging I’ve been asking myself the simple question; who am I as a writer? I know what I want to write about but how do I find that delicate balance between writing about what I enjoy and connecting it with what people enjoy reading? How do I prevent myself from fading to gray and becoming nothing more than another irrelevant blogger?
As with so many other areas of life it’s important to stay fresh and current;
—) For a woman who devoted a large portion of her life to being a career mother it’s important for her to find a new passion in life
—) For the person retiring from a thirty year career it’s vital that they develop new passions that carry them into their later years of life
—) For the young adult who graduated from college but is no longer interested in their career, it’s necessary for them to find the balance between the responsibilities of life (paying bills for instance) and finding whatever it is that gives them a sense of meaning and purpose.
While some of these thoughts may seem rather meek, for me they are a big deal because as I draw near to the beginning of my second year of blogging I want to increase the depth of the subject matters that I deal with while at the same time not risk losing my readership……I want to continue to explore who I am as a writer without alienating myself from the culture.
As for the moment, I think I’ll have another cup of coffee and keep thinking about who I am….
Categories: Culture & Society