The Constraining Box of Extreme Identity

There is something noticeable about extremes.  People that live in extremes (Extreme sports, extreme diets, extreme lifestyles, extreme political views, ect) seem to be the ones that always have something going for them or have some wonderful, awe-inspiring life.  It can make it hard to define your own identity when you feel so normal.  

Of course there really nothing wrong with these things (for the most part) but as a normal person that is moderate in just about everything, sometimes I feel like I’m missing the boat.  I’m sure other people feel this way too from time to time.  After all our identity is what is linked to both what makes us an individual and what keeps us connected to people like us (As an Anthropology person, I cringe and the way the use of the word ‘Tribe’ is thrown around these days).

But please, please, PLEASE don’t feel lost in the shuffle.  Here are some tips to help you define your identity without diving neck deep into the next fad that you are trying to use to define yourself:

Understand that our ‘Sameness’ is just as important as our ‘difference’

The word “Extremism”  has the word extreme in it for a reason.  Any time you become to set in your ways you might just be segregating yourself from an entirely different group of people.  We put up these strick ideas to find ourselves but for the most part, people are fundamentally the same and that is a good thing

It cultivates understanding and appreciation for people that are different than we are.  Cutting yourself off from new experiences and passions can do nothing but harm, most of all if you are cutting yourself off because you feel like it doesn’t fit into the identity you are trying to force yourself into.

Finding yourself consists of being able to try lots of things…you might even like multiple things!

I am a writer, athlete who just panicked because I was going to be the last in the virtual queue to buy tickets for Comicon.  Sounds like a lot right?  No, not really.  When I walk into a comic book shop or the POP store across the street from my work I probably do not look like the kind of person you would expect to find there.  But I tried it and I liked it.  Just like I tried running and I liked it.  Then I realized that most famous writers and brilliant personalities of our time had other jobs that consisted of things that we would consider so far off from writers its shocking.

Not only is it inspiring but it’s fun to meet different kinds of people that are passionate about different things! Things that we might never have thought about are suddenly a lot more interesting when people that are passionate about them explain them.

Happiness does not depend on how you define yourself

We get so hung up on labels.  It’s so sad that we even feel the need to define ourselves.  There is nothing wrong with liking different things and not looking like a particular niche group.  Trying to fit into that mold will just make you feel like a fraud and if you like something, you like it.  Period.  No fraudulent about it.

You are you.  And all humans are a hot mess of contradictions.  Embrace that and embrace that your happiness does not depend on the niche group you are in.  It is just a matter of doing what you are passionate about.

If you only define yourself by one thing 99.9% of the time you will fall out of it.

I have a childhood friend that is super into fad diets and that sort of thing.  She gets so into it and gets deep into the culture.  Fast.  Too fast.  She tries to sell us the products and what not and honestly had to unfollow her social media because it was almost like a carousel of different health and weight loss products.  When those petered out she would get depressed and the posts would become about how she didn’t know who she was anymore and she had put so much into the company and that business that now she didn’t know what to do.

If you make your entire life about just one thing and define yourself by just one thing, I can damn near promise you, you will become disillusioned with it.

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Above all other things, I just want to say this.  It is so important to do you.  Regardless of if you think that it fits into the box that you want to prescribe yourself to.  I’m not talking just about defining yourself as an adult or not either.  Every social group has a niche where the extremists hang out.  This includes everything from conservative Republicans to Boho Hippies.

You don’t need to be anything.

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