I have been going through an identity crisis of sorts.
I was very surprised when upon my I return from Guatemala, I discovered that I just didn’t fit my pre-Guatemala life very well at all.
Not that there was anything wrong with my life back then; it’s just that I found myself, instead, in a whole new season…a whole new direction in life; heading off to uni, passionate about issues of poverty and development, and with a very different perspective on a lot of things from faith to music.
And it’s left me with a whole bunch of decisions to make, and I’m not a big fan of life changing decisions. They tend to make my head hurt.
So as I’ve been pondering where I should commit my time and invest my energy this year and consequently who I want to be, and as my head started to really pound, I started to wonder if perhaps my problem is simply having too many options.
Thanks to things like technology and globalisation and capitalism and the flower power of the 60’s, we live in an age and culture where anything goes. It is now up to the individual to design their own image and life by choosing from a plethora of religions, fashion styles, music genres, political parties, careers, hobbies, foods etc etc.
This seems to be to be far removed from the way most people who have lived throughout the earth’s history and as many cultures still live today; where you live in a community where everyone believes the same things, goes to the same school, dresses in the same style, upholds similar values and parents pass on their trades to their children.
But for us, as Barry Schwartz so aptly phrased it:
“We don’t inherit an identity, we get to invent it; and we get to reinvent ourselves as often as we like.”
No wonder our generation is so confused.
I am so grateful for freedom of choice and a decent education and am very excited about the future. But I can really understand why some people are happy for things in their world to be very black and white, because it makes life so much easier when you think there’s only one way things should be done.
If you have a spare 20 minutes you should definitely check out Barry Schwartz’s Ted talk about how he thinks “choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.” Gets you thinking.