This may be a statement full of youthful ignorance, but I really believe that my generation is facing something that hasn’t been an issue before (or at least it hasn’t been an issue during the lifespan of all our currently living relativesâ€¦ who knows, maybe ancient Greece dealt with it or something).Â Here’s the thingâ€¦ back in the “olden” days of America, your world was pretty small (compared to today when you can live in the U.S. yet see and talk to people in India in real time, or even have colleagues who work alongside you from Malaysia!).Â Long gone are the days when you chose between the 3 factories in your town, got a job there, bought a house nearby, and worked there until retirement because you knew your company would take care of you.Â Maybe that’s why people call it the “simpler times”. Ever heard of a pension?Â Some of my younger readers maybe haven’t because they are not reality anymore.Â Now, we literally have every single choice in the world.Â Many jobs enable you to live or move to anywhere in the world, force you to compete with the best of the best worldwide (rather than with only the people who live in your small town), or even enable you to have 2 or 3 jobs simultaneously because each requires just a few hours of computer time a day (so much for factoring in commuting time!).
Aside from the globalization of the workforce, the biggest change I’m talking about here is the fact that there is little incentive for a company to keep you on board for very long.
They can hire someone in another country to do it cheaper or better. And there is even less reason for a person to choose to remain at their current jobs because they too have world wide options and have no promise of a rewarding for dedicating their entire life to one company.
Not to mention in the olden days, your job really was a major part of who you were and what defined you.Â
For example, my grandpa was the “telephone guy” and he climbed up telephone poles everyday for 25+ years of his life.Â He owned a house in a certain neighborhood that was near his work, his friends were often co-workers, and his view of the worldÂ was shaped by the world that surrounded him every day during those 25 + years.Â It wasn’t until retirement that he was faced with choices about who he was and what he wanted to become.Â He had his pension and he could’ve happily chilled for many years of his life, which I’m assuming he probably triedâ€¦ only it didn’t last long because even to this day he can’t still still for more than 3 minutes at a time… and then big questions began.Â (By the way, he eventually became a pilot and he loved it!)
So what does it mean when we have a culture who’s not nearly as limited in our geography, social network, or culture as we were in the past?
The question of your identity has an entire world of new options open to it!Â I’m not even going to get into the fact that we have access to all the information, talents, entertainment, etc. etc. worldwide- because I’m sure you’ve heard enough “information overload” rants to last a lifetime- but that is a part of all this as well. Also take into account that the few parts of your identity that are still defined by your job are completely unstable because our jobs are in constant flux!Â We as individuals in this culture, are in a constant state of reinventing ourselves. After all, I was a counseling student, then a photographer, and now a writer, right?! That’s not counting all the other non-career jobs I’ve hadâ€¦ and I’m not even 30 years old yet!Â (I’ve heard it said that the average length of time an American stays at a job is 3-5 years and that fluctuates depending on the person’s age). The questions that my grandpa dealt with when he retired are now being faced by people about every 3 years!Â How are we ever supposed to feel at rest or connected- either to ourselves or to a community- how will we ever really know ourselves when our entire skill set, knowledge base, and daily experiences and routines change every few years?Â My grandpa knew the art of climbing telephone poles REALLY well.Â What are you good at?Â Have you ever worked at something long enough to even find out? Even if you found something you were good at and enjoyed, did you get bored because you knew there was something new and different waiting just around the corner for you?
Okay, okay I’m getting WAY ahead of myself.Â I’m just trying to give you a taste of the overwhelming mix of factors go into our identity distress at this current point in time.Â There are countless discussions and social commentaries that we could go on and on about the causes/effects, pros/cons, etc of this issue and I am by no means about to tackle them all right now!Â However, you are always free to start up a discussion on this (or anything else related to extraordinary living) by posting questions for other readers to answer on the Rare Existence Facebook wall!
The bottom line is that we have no idea who we are, and yet we are constantly being forced to try and find outâ€¦. and this leads to crazy cases of identity confusion!Â
And that can be VERY frustrating!Â I’m pretty sure this is actually the very reason that this entire Rare Existence blog is here. I’ve had countless friends who have been hardcore struggling with these issues for the past few years and it has been killing me that I can’t just give them the answers.Â This blog is here due to my desire to help them and people like them who just feel stuck in their lives, while facing an overwhelming world of possibilities, and have absolutely no idea where to go from here.Â It sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Having limitless choices, but feeling stuck?Â That’s why it’s so freaking frustrating!Â You feel like a moron, or at least slightly schizo in need of some serious counseling, when in reality I believe you are actually just another member of the masses.
Now that I think about it, I think there is a very good chance that many of you have been getting pretty annoyed as you’ve followed my blog so far.
I sit up here preaching, “change your life, do things differently!” etc., etc. and you are just sighing and saying “again?!Â I have no idea who I am or what I want and you are asking me to reinvent my already undefined self AGAIN?!”Â My only reply to that is an ever so tentative and slightly apologetic, “um, yes?” But don’t worry, I’m not just going to sit up on my soap box and expect you to figure out all by yourself how to do this.Â The next few blogs are intended to help you sort through your identity chaos.Â If you feel really secure and defined in your identity, first of all give me your secret, second of all don’t feel that this doesn’t apply to you because there’s a good chance it will apply the next time you choose or are forced to reinvent yourself.