Like almost everyone else in the world these days, I’m depressed. Really depressed. So depressed that I’ve been taking a mild anti-depressant, St. John’s Wort, for a while now. You know things are bad when I can take an anti-depressant. I’m bi-polar. Under normal circumstances, an anti-depressant would send me into a manic episode, even a mild dose. Now? It barely scratches the surface. Hell, I’ve already took 2 doses today.
I’m also having an identity crisis. And I don’t think I’m alone. I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m pretty sure the identity crisis is feeling into the depression, aggravating it, pushing it to go harder, faster, deeper…
It’s a really good thing I’m a meditator. I experience myself as having two minds. There’s the one mind who is wallowing in depression and wonders who she is, and the other who is pointing it out to me. “You’re depressed.” “You’ll figure out who you are again.” “Calm the fuck down!”
I’d be in a lot of trouble otherwise.
So, today I’m going to talk about identity and my identity crisis.
Identity(noun) – “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.”
That is really very illuminating isn’t it? What the hell does that mean? That is not useful!
I’m a 56-year-old white woman.
There are a lot of people out there who will try and tell me that being a 56-year-old white woman means something specific. Like it’s a definitive clue to who I am as a person. They apply stereotypes to the labels and then act like it is reality. Shaming and blaming and other ignorant behavior.
Tail end of the Boomers. A middle-aged person (although I question that one). Getting ready for retirement. Maybe own a home. Mother, grandmother, maybe even great-grandmother. Work is the most important thing, can’t text, and is not technically inclined.
No, no, and did I mention, NO! Yes, tail end of the Boomers. But, never married, no children, no property, and no retirement (Are you kidding? It’s a death sentence). I still act like the 3 year old going on 4 that I actually am. I still have hope that I will find a partner and get married someday.
I can text, even it it’s annoying because I fat finger the tiny keyboard. And hello, I’m a software tester who regularly playing games in her Oculus Quest VR headset.
And? You think I got to create my own reality? Christ, I was born this way! My family has problems with skin cancer we’re so white. Well, actually more of a ruddy pink color since we’re redheads.
There is a lot of yapping about “white privilege” and to some extent it’s true. But I come from a hard background. I had a very hard childhood and often had to steal food or toilet paper. See, even though they didn’t call it “white privilege” back in the 70s, it was still assumed that since my mother was white, we shouldn’t need food stamps. Hence all the stealing…
I inherited a lot of bull crap from my parents. My father likes to make a joke of it “you inherited the worst of both of your parents.” People didn’t think I’d live past 30. I’m 57 now and I’ve earned everything I have, both good and bad. Yeah, I have to live with a lot of consequences too.
So really, people who yap about “white privilege” to me can fuck off. You know nothing. Ignorance is not becoming.
The weaker sex. Exploited. Taken advantage of. Batshit crazy. Irrational.
Yeah…no. Okay, maybe batshit crazy, but the rest? No. I’m well aware of my own power. I started learning about power in high school and when I went to the Navy, I found out just how fucking powerful I am. Of course, with great gifts come great flaws. Nature abhors a vacuum. I have many, many flaws and issues. It’s a miracle I’m still alive.
Nothing has annoyed me more than women putting on the victim mantle, like that’s powerful in any way.
I’m a 56-year-old white woman?
It’s not my identity.
So, what is my identity? How do I see myself? And why the hell am I having an identity crisis?
How do I see myself at work? What is my work identity?
- A Powerhouse
- Efficient and Effective
- Able to see things from multiple points of view
- A Leader – who leads from below
- A Force of Nature
Our company was sold and now we’re working on putting together the new company. Things have changed.
Powerhouse + Force of Nature + Leading from below = Karin is a pain in the ass.
Or that’s the way it seems to me.
I’m not used to that. Usually I figure out whether I fit in right away and rectify the situation by leaving them to flounder on their own.
But most of the people from the old company are in the new company. There’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to let them down. Even if the company thinks I’m a pain in the ass, they need me.
So, I keep trying. I’m the one to speak up at meetings. I say the hard things. I tell the truth. I raise the hell. But things don’t change. I’m not helping.
If I’m not helping, what am I doing?
My sense of work identity has taken a huge hit. I’m still smart, efficient, and effective. I still come at my job from multiple points of view. But instead of being a Powerhouse, I’m a Pain.
What am I supposed to do with that?
It might be easier to deal with if I wasn’t dealing with so much more…
A big part of my identity is being funny. I haven’t met a stage I don’t like. I love getting up there and having fun and making people laugh. I love going to improv classes.
Heck I’d just started with the Rec League at ComedySportz when COVID happened. I was on the path.
That went to hell.
COVID, along with all of its implications, shut the world down.
No more going to class. No more getting on the stage. No more having fun with like-minded people.
Then came the killing of George Floyd, and the riots started up. Feelings came pouring out of people. So much anger. A lot of it was anger that was warranted. A lot of it wasn’t. There were a lot of very bad actions taken by people, using their anger as justification. All of it coming out of fear.
People were just not in the mood to be funny. Or laugh.
ComedySportz tried for a while but it ended up closing down.
Some of us need it. Some of us need it like air. Some of use can’t survive without it.
I started taking online classes. I took classes with The Second City. I took classes with The Sketch School. I took classes with “No-budget Film Making”. And they were great classes.
But there is nothing like being in a group of people you know, doing the thing. Making it happen. Having fun. Kicking butt and taking names.
Nothing like it.
Comedy identity – in the toilet.
Before COVID, I was a part of a community of ecstatic dancers. In the beginning it was good. But after President Trump was elected, things started going downhill.
Finally, I had to admit that I don’t belong in that group. We have different values and paths. So, even though it was very painful, I started removing myself from the community.
But I didn’t have enough time to find another community before COVID struck.
So now I’m a woman living alone, without the support of a community, whose closest friend is playing a stupid man/woman game with me, ensuring we both lose. Men in their 30s…sigh…what part of “I’m 16 years older than you and I’ve already seen it all” doesn’t he understand?
I have no identity in a community anymore. I’m alone.
I tried the online peer support groups, but they don’t listen. I suspect that they are just following their scripts and trying to make sure we all don’t commit suicide. While it’s nice to just tell another human whatever is on my mind, it’s nicer to have it reciprocated.
I’ve found some solace in a Crackbook group, of all things. You can’t just join. You have to promise to never turn them in for offensive material. That’s because the whole group is so offensive it’s hilarious. It’s such a relief to laugh at all the stupidity in the world. To tell my stories. I don’t know these people, but they are all awesome! Thank you!
I’m trying to figure out what to do about my identity crisis. What can I do to help myself feel grounded in this world?
ComedySportz is putting something together, I hope. That’ll help.
Work? Well, I suspect I’m going to have to drop a lot of my identity there. It’s a little rough finding a job today, and in reality, I don’t have the energy for it. I also don’t have the energy to keep trying to help, to lead from below. It’s exhausting when people don’t get it. Why bother?
I can’t help but wonder if the idea of identity is either too narrowly defined to be useful. Or maybe I should find a way to let go of it completely. It’s too easy for things to change and to have something I have been leaning on for my identity to be taken from me. Too easy. Not sustainable. And painful, excruciatingly painful.
What is the answer?
Whatever it is, other people, circumstances, results, or any other dependencies can’t be a part of it. They are too easily taken from me. It has to be something that can last, no matter what.
I don’t know the answer yet, but the meditator part of my brain is working on it.
Better hurry Brain….