Can We Talk About the Limitations of Identity for Half a Second?

This is a long but extremely worthwhile essay about embracing uncertainty, imperfection, and inevitable change as part of daily life. We may do that on a personal level but on a cultural level? Hardly.

word and silence


Like many of us, as a lonely and vaguely unhappy teenager I justified a natural tendency towards silence and social awkwardness with the thought, Why would I want to talk to Those People anyway? Those People, of course, were comprised of nearly everybody but me, all of them slotted off into easy categories I had learned from movies and sitcoms. Having read my Salinger, I was certain that most people were phony.

The fact not that I got along with so few people, but that I couldn’t talk to them long enough to even say that, was proof of my being different than most others. Rather than deal with my own insecurities and limitations, I merely concluded that nearly any form of public ritual was the height of insincerity. This stemmed from the usually intense adolescent perception that everyone has a unique identity so sharply distinct that any pretense…

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