Goodbye Nickname. Hello Identity Crisis…

I never thought experiencing the same problems as every other 22-year-old would be so hard. Grab a bottle and let’s talk about feelings. No, not your feelings you selfish dick. Mine, and mine only.

Ted Harris
Mar 13, 2015 · 10 min read

Not long ago, I wrote about how the experience of living with a pervasive nickname had a more profound effect on my growth than I’d ever thought possible. Now, a year and a half later, whilst attempting to transition between academia and harsh reality, I’m finding it immensely difficult to realise anything good about my current self which might foreshadow everything I become in the future.

Brace yourself, you’re in for a lot of me, me, me.

In a hapless and futile attempt to make this bearable for those reading, I have included (Drink) breaks, at which point I advise at least a measure of something between 37.5% and 70% proof. Peppered throughout are also amusing homages to popular culture and cat gifs in an attempt to avoid too much serious introspection on both of our parts. Nevertheless, do proceed with caution as, at this point, I’m way past melancholy.

I’d much prefer drunk people pointing and laughing than sober people feeling sorry and criticising.

The many identical faces of an identity crisis

To spin a small amount of backstory for the significant majority who won’t have wanted to read my ever-angst and cringe-inducing Tumblr blog on which the aforementioned writing was posted; I have lived the majority of my cognisant youth under widely used nicknames. Primarily one nickname which mostly defined my experiences within both secondary and tertiary education. I had previously come to the conclusion that the person I felt happiest being, and within whose skin I felt most ‘myself’ was this nicknamed persona, rather than some affictitious person I assumed to be under my given, passport stamped, parentally chosen name. This wasn’t to say that I was totally adverse to my parents choice; far from it. I had just grown into a new name through years of reinforcement, persistence and assimilation. It had sticking power, and by the time I realised, I was already two-thirds of the way through my identity crisis. (Drink) The problem though is, that what became normal to not only myself and my peers but many teachers and parents and colleagues, will certainly not be considered normal, let alone acceptable for those who should become my new peers or my new teachers; be they colleagues, employers or just new acquaintances.

Who needs this many names? (TL;DR, Cullen is my father's name, Peeters is my mother’s. ‘Twister’ is what neither of them had the foresight to call me in the first place.)

A year and a half later, and whilst my thoughts on the subject still stand, the issue I have with the person I once believed myself to be has changed significantly, and morphed into an entirely new beast. Now, in a time when I am referring to myself more and more outside of this previously preferred persona, I’m having difficulty coming to terms with being somebody I am not entirely comfortable with.

I’m also aware that to anybody who hasn’t experienced this, or who simply steers clear of self-reflection to the severe and debilitating extent to which I realise I continue to do, this will sound infantile, finicky and probably more somewhat of a non-issue that has plagued every young adult since the job market expanded beyond hunter/gatherer. (Spoiler alert: You’re correct.) But the fact that I am fairly assured of this infantile actuality only serves to augment the question of why I feel so strongly attached to this issue of feeling so detached from somebody I thought I was. (Drink)

In an attempt not to implicate the, then boy, responsible for the origin and proliferation of my nickname as culpable in my rapidly escalating downward spiral hellbent on hesitantly yet blazingly honestly outlining my closest and most personal fears and feelings in 12 point Times New Roman; I have attempted to outwardly contextualise rather than compartmentalise the issue. Instead, I understand that said fears and feelings are more than likely a culmination of many things which have slowly built up over the tumultuous, frustrating and yet ultimately boring and least eventful months of my life, between handing in an average Master’s thesis and tentatively vomiting up an identity crisis through my tippity tappety fingers for my ill-equipped and unsuspecting friends, followers and finite unforgiving public audience to deal with.

Just substitute the majesty of song for the cathartic self-indulged loathing of midnight blogging

I’ll thank you in advance here because you’re a hell of a lot cheaper than a real therapist, and advise that if you do not wish to lower yourself to my own level of vein self-indulgence for fear of inconsequential guilt or the more likely contemptuous disdain for somebody you once held a modicum of respect for — to Alt-F4 now.

If anything, I would think more highly of you for doing so. And yes, that is what Alt-F4 does.

There are many things in my life, and life in general lately which I’ve recently, and too late in the game come to feel are beyond the realms of my own control and which in turn, I feel have contributed nicely to this belligerent and sarcastic, yet ultimately and regretfully real despair. (Drink) I am unemployed and broke. I live off my wonderful girlfriends graces (who gave up her plans, moved somewhere she dislikes and took a job she hates to stay with me) and my loving father’s growing negative equity in pride these days. I am growing exponentially indebted, both financially and emotionally to these outstanding people to whom I have nothing to offer in return, and who both have significantly more of a right to be depressed than I do. I have an abundance of friends whom I feel guilty about seeing/not seeing, not least because it means sacrificing time due, to the people who are paying for me to write cover letters about how much I excel at literally any skill set other than self-deprecation. (Drink) I also previously thought myself to be a somewhat talented writer, whose ability, coupled with experience and knowledge, would be my ticket to jobdem; yet I’ve an entire folder filled with half-written articles, blogs and novel ideas I have zero plans for how to finish, with a space saved especially for this one too. I’ve made endless promises to myself that I’ve failed to keep. I’ve a list full of ideas and projects I’ve beaten myself up about for years, constantly questioning the quality to only now realise have as much chance of amounting to anything as I do. I’m one hefty loss at home for the Baggies away from a perfect storm. (Double Drink)

Now is your time to bow out gracefully.

(We are now arriving at ‘The last chance to save your sanity’. The train towards ‘embarrassing self-pity’ splits here. Remain in the front two carriages for ‘disingenuous self-loathing’, ‘anger-inducing whining’ and ‘uncomfortable future conversations.’ Disembark for ‘The knowledge that the rest of your day will only be slightly marred by this idiotic rant from somebody who has never experienced true pain’.)

All of this no doubt feeds into my downward looking daily routine of steaming up bathroom mirrors and avoiding reflective surfaces to save from glimpsing reminders of what I now consider to be an above average height perpetually useless form of helpless dogged self-pity. (Drink) But on the odd occasion when I find some courage (read: drink) and untuck my balls from my vagina to stay up into the night attempting to recover whatever talent I previously thought I had for writing, I will catch a glimpse of my hollow frame in the kitchen window. And the one thing I can be certain of, is that I don’t like the person staring back at me now anywhere near as much as I used to, and that now every time I am referred to by the nickname I once felt proud to be called, I am ruining any chance regaining him again. (Drink)

Aaaaahhh. Courage. Drink.

I remember making people happy. I remember being there for people I loved and even people I didn’t. I remember being confident. I remember being proud of who I was, the people I knew, what I could be and what I could do. I remember making people proud of me. I remember playing for the good of a team and doing things for free. I remember working hard and finishing something. I remember laughing and not feeling a pit in my stomach weighing the down the edges of my smile with such weight that even a grimace is forced these days. I remember that even as I championed the cause of the pessimist, I was assured of my own future, that I felt worthy of carrying on despite all of the shit in the world because I knew that I could, I could make the people around me happy and in doing so, make myself happy enough to stave off any bouts of depression or sideline any thoughts of uselessness because at least I was doing something, and it mattered to somebody, even if that somebody was just me.

(Drink, Drink, Drink)

These days, I find it hard to remember the last time I did anything of any merit that mattered to anybody, least of all myself. Worst of all, because of this, I’m in a daily process of consistently letting down nearly all of my closest family, every circle of friends and less importantly myself. Now it’s too late and I'm in a cyclical motion that even when I do attempt to make right, I’m a ghost of the person I used to be to these people and I find it hard to believe I’m contributing to their happiness at all. Instead, all I serve to do is continue the cycle and displeasure of sharing in my hopefully non-contagious inadequacy. (Drink)

As it stands, even I wouldn’t hire me, let alone be friends with me at the moment. I feel sorry for my family because they don’t really have a choice in the matter. (Drink) But wracking yourself with guilt and serving as a visual reminder to yourself of incredulous uselessness is proving to be a self-perpetuating cycle in which, in rare moments of clarity, I know my way out of, but I simply cannot find it in myself to kick into operation. That’s real inadequacy, and it’s something I’ve never faced before.

I know the situation I am in. I know that I’d feel guilty about burdening anybody I know with thoughts like these, because who the fuck wants to listen or deal with somebody this fucked up? But at the same time, I know that if anybody I knew came to me with thoughts like this, I’d do my utmost to accommodate them, or at least I think I would have before; so why on god’s earth would it be any different for me? (Spoiler alert #2: It wouldn’t.) I know what they’d say, and it’s the same thing I tell myself in those rare moments of clarity between wracking myself with guilt and avoiding any reflective visual reminder of my own cyclical incredulity.

Just keep going. Psych yourself up. Apply for more jobs. See your friends. Do things with your loved ones. Think positively. Be there when you can. Apologise for when you can’t. Understand that not everybody will internalise as much as you and most won’t even notice that you think you’ve failed them. The ones you keep for life will be there whatever. Be grateful for what you have.

A map to encourage humbling and discourage whinging. Copyright: Numbeo, Quality of Life Index, 2015
I don’t even live in any of these ‘shitholes’. I think this was in the Independent or something. Fucking sue me.

Be grateful for what you have is damn right. The universe is infinite and look, I’m alive in it! Of all the places on Earth as well: not Africa, not South America, not Asia; I’m an educated white male from the UK, given the opportunity to hold out for work he wants. Fuck, if I’d put it that way a page or two ago, you’d have stopped reading, said “fuck this guy” and gone back to doing something genuinely worthwhile. Hell, if I’d have put it that way a page or two ago, I probably wouldn’t have made it this far either.

My point is friends, and those of you who have made it this far are now undoubtedly some of my best; don’t worry. I’m not going to fucking kill myself. If anything, this is more of an excuse as to why I haven’t written anything lately, or done anything with my life, or maybe hopefully a reason behind my letting you down in the past few months or an apology in advance for my inevitably doing so in the near future.

I’ve just never hit a wall this hard before in my life, and currently all I’m doing is switching between wholehearted dejection, given up on even trying to break through and confusing myself about how it could ever be possible. The notion of running it at the wall or throwing enough shit at it just isn’t an option at the moment. All I can think about is how to rectify who I am, because once I hit the other side of that wall, I’ll be a completely different person. I’m worrying too much about a past which come to think of it, it needs to remain exactly where it is. It’s just that changing something as simultaneously nonsensical yet important as a name, is going to change more than I thought it would. Really, I already worry that I am a completely different person, and that scares the shit out of me. (Drink)

Here’s a nice angsty song about being young. Fuck Taylor Swift. #MarryMeTaylor

Just finish the fucking bottle.

If there is anybody out there hiring writers, or even just questionably post-pubescent InterPol graduates, I’d love to take my mind off things like ^this^, stave off the emotional self-harm and put all my efforts into you. Tweet me.

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