Sunday, 26 October 2008

The CROSSROADS (Part1) - IDENTITY


21, 22, and for some the 1st 6 months of 23 are the defining years that will chart the course of one's life.




Let's for the sake of discussion call them "The Crossroads".




If circumvented appropriately "The Crossroads" will be the entrance to "the best years of one's life", if not they will be the entrance to what I have previously referred to as a "half-life" ultimately culminating in "a mid-life crisis" (for the lucky ones) or to "a bitter and resentful latter life".




Notice that my use of cliché after cliché is deliberate.




This concept of "Crossroads" and its repercussions is true for all, consequently, any description or discussion of this issue will be hackneyed.


In cultures or environments where one is forced to mature earlier (as in some parts of Africa) or later (as in some parts of Los Angeles) the exact dates of the "Crossroads" might be different but the experience is the same.


At the "Crossroads", three main issues require clarification after which a choice of one of three paths must be made.


The three issues that require clarification are:



  • IDENTITY: Who am I?

  • DESIRE: What do I want?

  • PURPOSE: Why am I here?

and the options for the paths are:



  • To conform with what is expected of by family, peers, teachers, the world (easiest)

  • To rebel against all expectations - contrary for contrary sake (stupidest)

  • To seek an individual path honestly - recognising the need for guidance when necessary, but at all times being true to self (hardest)

IDENTITY


Who am I?


I am in the middle of my crossroads and therefore, I have no idea what the answer to this question is.


It was rather unsettling to realise that at 21 I am still unsure of my identity.


I know what I am...

  • I am Christian
  • I am human
  • I am female
  • I am black
  • I am Nigerian
  • I am Yoruba
  • I am a sister
  • I am a daughter
  • I am a friend
  • I am a medical student
  • I am an avid reader
  • I am a film-lover
  • I am a budding writer
  • I am an amateur vocalist
  • I am British-educated

but This is WHAT I am not WHO I am.


While, all of these things in some part might contribute to who I will eventually realise they I am, they are NOT definitive of me. Regardless of what others might be predisposed to think.


I know that for certain.


The path to realising identity is riddled with uncertainties therefore, realising without a shadow of a doubt that WHAT does not equal WHO is a step in the right direction.


It is not something of shame to experience an identity crisis, it is part of the maturing process.


It will pass (gam zeh ya'avor) and when I am finally able to answer this question and the other two questions of Desire and Purpose -which I will be discussing in later posts- I will finally able to leave the "crossroads" zone and start to honestly seek my individual path.




Wednesday, 22 October 2008

This Too Shall Pass - גם זה יעבור‎


In Hebrew folklore, there is a story that tells of King Solomon's search for the cure for depression.



The wisest man that ever lived was at a loss when it came to handling the moods of intense sadness that assuaged him from time to time. Therefore, he called all his advisers and instructed them to think of a solution to his problem.



After months of deep meditation, they came up with an idea.



"Great King, make for yourself a ring inscribed with the following: 'this too shall pass'. Wear it always".



Solomon did what they advised and everytime he felt his mood start to change for the worse he would look upon that inscription and his mood would lift.



As this story is not recorded in the bible, I do not know whether it occurred or not.



However, real or imagined, it resonates across the millenia to me.



In my dark hours, I hold on to the irrefutable truth in the story.
I have to.



גם זה יעבור‎ - (gam zeh ya'avor)





In the middle of the turbulence surrounding you
These trying times that are so hard to endure
In the middle of what seems to be your darkest hour
Hold fast your heart and be assured:
This too shall pass
Like every night that's come before it
He'll never give you more than you can bear
This too shall pass
So in this thought be comforted
It's in His Hands
This too shall pass

- Yolonda Adams

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Revisiting Self-Sabotage - Part 1


I am currently reading Helen Oyeyemi's "The Opposite House".


This is actually my second shot at reading an Oyeyemi novel. The first was "Icarus Girl" which I began several times and could never quite bring myself to finish. The term 'trying to hard' came to mind on several ungripping pages.


I digress. "The Opposite House" has rather suprisingly managed to more than grip me, it has spoken to me and I am only on page 33.


In the second chapter, Miss Oyeyemi using the voice of her central character describes something she refers to as 'the hysteric'.


I am going to define this as an element of the human soul that yearns for the dramatic and searches it out through sabotaging, mutilating behaviour that could be physical, mental or both.


The hysteric is emotional and therefore illogical.


It should be obvious to all that emotional behaviour is always, without exception, illogical. However, taking into account the alarming spontaneity in decision making that is cornerstone to 21st Century living, it is clearly NOT.


(Hence the high rate of divorce in our "meet one day, marry/move-in-together the next" society)


I digress again. While 'the hysteric' is illogical, it is an essential part of the human soul because it is intrinsic to creativity.

Nevertheless, it must be tightly policed by reason in order that it not become the driver of the human vehicle. Instead, it should remain firmly belted, in the child seat, at the rear, such that the vehicle does not find itself in a destination of macabre destruction of the soul and body.


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Not Quite there Yet.


It is excruciatingly hard for me to have to admit to myself and to you all that I am in the midst of yet another dramatic episode.


I have been very blasé about the self-acceptance and self-growth I experienced over the summer.


Many times I have heard myself in a didactic tone deliver my la-di-da opinion about how easy it is to pull oneself together from the abyss that is self-loathing into the marvellous, enlightened nirvana of self-awareness.

Clicking my fingers together I have described to many that exact instant in time when I decided to love myself. "Self-love and self-awareness are the key to happiness. I have never been happier".


BS.


In what can be only referred to as the arrogance of youthful inexperience I actually believed that the episodes of intense dissatisfaction and sadness that have assailed me from time to time since I entered into the perilious tide of puberty were well and truly over.


BS.


I have been rudely returned to the reality of hormones and tears.


I do not yet have the answer.


BS.


To be completely and brutally honest, the truth is I am not yet ready to admit to the answer.


(Some of you who know me might have guessed it)


However writing has certainly helped me gain some perspective on the situation.


So unfortunately there is no lesson to be gained from this post. Perhaps that is in itself a lesson.