HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOURSELF?
ANNIE BRADDOCK: Wow, that’s…That’s certainly an easy enough question. Mm-hm. Annie Braddock is a kind… well… I am…
HR. DIRECTOR: Go on.
ANNIE BRADDOCK: Well, you see…Mm-hm. I have absolutely no idea.
HR. DIRECTOR: Excuse me.
ANNIE BRADDOCK: Who is Annie Braddock? It wasn’t exactly a tricky question. Yet somehow I couldn’t formulate a response. Of course I knew all the basic facts… the date of birth, home town, socioeconomic makeup. But I didn’t really know who I was, where I fit in, who I was gonna be. I was suddenly terrified I’d never find the answer.
—The Nanny Diaries, 2007,
Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.
WHEN F.C. Barcelona plays against Real Madrid, there’s not only a game at a stake.
We smell politics, economics—although Galactics1 failed to win any trophy—culture, tradition, blood, etc. That’s why the winner is not only a winner of the game, but the winner beyond the game.
These teams are going to play tomorrow, and leaving aside fanaticism, as Margaret Thatcher once said referring to the soccer hooligans in the 1980s “A disgrace to civilized society,” I got to thinking that some people use their belonging to a certain soccer club as a powerful way to identify themselves. Even becoming stronger than religion. Or I should say, they belong to another sort of cult.
Let’s do a mental exercise. Drop your diplomas, your job, your native language, your friends, your possessions, your belonging to any professional/personal/Bildelberg club, and move to a foreign country and start over. How would you define yourself then?
Think about that for a second.
Isn’t that the perfect chance to create ourselves anew?! We can become the creators of our lives! Isn’t that exciting?!
In Otto Rank2’s view, a developing person strives for individuation3, growth, and fulfillment of his or her potential.
But why does this freedom terrify?
Yes, my Dear Readers, it does because there’s a cost. The daunting side on this fully immersion into Life is that most likely we will encounter life anxiety, a frightening loneliness, a feeling of vulnerability, a loss of basic connection, and a bunch of mediocre people who will make the whole thing even more excruciating by telling you that “You can’t.4”
For some people, this life anxiety becomes unbearable, so they take another road. They go backward and find comfort in merger—“belonging to” or “merging into.” Even accepting that losing their unique self and the feeling of stagnation will rise to a major issue: Death.
1 Expensive, world-famous Real Madrid football players that were picked according to their reputation.
2 An Austrian psychoanalyst and Sigmund Freud’s close colleague.
3 In analytical psychology, individuation is a process through which a person becomes his/her “true self.” I would say, in my own experience, the awakening transformation ignites that process.
4 If they think they can’t, how the hell you can?
Copyright © 2011 by THE PYTHAGOREAN STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.