The Struggle to Feel Unique in a World of Uniformity

Posted on: March 21st, 2013

If you had asked me five years ago who I was, what I thought my life would be, and how I would do it I probably would have had an answer better than almost anyone else my age you could have asked. In that time my concerns were few. I was worried about my social situation and my simple grades that I only had to worry about simply taking the time to do. In the past year a lot has changed for me. More than ever I feel an unstoppable force of reckoning to determine what I am, who I am, and what I wish to be. The certainties I once held are gone and replaced by the anxieties of amounting to something I can be proud of. More than anything I crave with every fiber of my being a sense of self actualization. I want to wake up in the morning and not instantly be reminded of the problems in my life because they either don’t exist or I have a ready method to fix them. What I want is to feel a sense of absolute clarity. I simply wish for the freedom to do whatever I wish and it seems that is only available through stability (something that my life seems to lose a little more of all the time). I need to regain this sense of stability I felt living under my parents and I don’t feel I’ll at least be able to wake up happily every day until that happens.

Unfortunately, however, it seems that this will be something I’ll spend quite a while waiting for now as I won’t be making enough money to live this lifestyle (at least until I complete college). Right now I need to pick a method that is going to allow me to get there. Namely, a career. The issue is that I want to be paid to do something I love. Unfortunately many others have that dream just as I do and it makes for heated competition. Truthfully though, there are a lot of things I love about life and probably if I set forth in any one direction I’ll probably make it there somehow. The problem is I’m afraid to commit and decide on one and to make it worse I’m afraid if I choose one and then change my mind I’ll end up with nothing. Its kind of like when there are multiple lines to wait in so you pick one but then the other one goes faster so you switch to it and as soon as you do the line you moved from moves ahead. If this keeps happening you’ll never get anywhere. Luckily however, most people eventually get to the front, right? Sooner or later. The next real issue is that the longer it takes the worse of you are for a lot of reasons.

The longer you take to pick a career the further and further you put yourself behind. The confident and self assured steam ahead in this world of ours and those confident in their career decisions are no different. Going to college costs money. Quite a bit of it. I don’t think that’s really a secret to anybody. If you spend 8 years in college trying to figure out what you want to be you’ve not only put yourself about 4 years behind everyone else but to make matters worse you have twice the debt. That’s not even including all the hard work and time you had to spend over the last 8 years just to get to be considered worthy of being a player in the “rat race”.

If that weren’t enough, it also seems that the American education system has a way of making people feel so conformed that they crave to break out of the pattern. People who spend 5 years in college to become an accountant end up painting or making music. Right now, more than ever in my life, I feel a strong need to express myself. I want to be recognized for all the things that I feel set me apart, not learning things that make me the same. Without this expressive outlet I often feel blank. I want to write or make music that will make people feel emotion. I’ve considered a fusion of my computer skills and this desire and maybe this is eventually where I will go. I often find that I view writing code as a type of structured art form.

The problem is that our modern life and society don’t really allocate for this self exploration time. I’ve found since coming to college that in many ways I am much less in touch with myself and who I am than I was previously. The stress and anxieties ground me to the physical world and don’t allow me to expand. I’m simply concerned with surviving the day-to-day. This creates one of my most hated aspects of life. The “vicious cycle” where we are forced to spend all our time surviving and never getting around to improving and enjoying our lives. It seems that one of these vicious cycles is something I can not ever accept. Each time I find myself in one everything goes wrong until I find a way out. Often, however, there are more than one at a time; several things going on threatening to make my life a mundane cycle.

Ultimately I’m working against the grain here. Anyone who doesn’t want to get caught in society’s whirlwind faces this challenge. The road is hard and long and the worst part is there are no guarantees. We take it so seriously but in actuality it’s all just a gamble.

3 Responses

  1. Allison says:

    Dear Ben,
    I read your post and it reminded me of the stress I felt years ago when I was in college. So I wanted to share a quote that helped me feel better then and still helps now… it’s attributed to Buddha but I think that’s wrong… anyway, it’s “There is no way to happiness – Happiness is the way.”
    Good luck finding contentment at your own pace!

  2. Romero says:

    I know your feeling, i am from of Brasil, age 38,

  3. Aaron says:

    Wow, that is exactly how I feel. +1

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