Essays, Prose, Writing

False Abstractions on the Meaning of Identity


Who am I? Long buried, this question has escaped from my consciousness for some time, but only recently have I begun to wonder if it never really left. The anxiety and uncertainty about my identity has manifested itself in various forms under an array of names. Will I be a failure in life? Do I have any meaning? Am I a creative individual? Am I ethical in my actions? Am I Bipolar? Can I be disciplined in my daily life? Am I a night owl or will I ever be able to wake up early in the mornings to sip my latte and watch the sun rise as I ponder the beauty of existence?

The anxiety has not disappeared with the simple quandary of wondering who “I” am, but rather, it has catapulted that question, shot it in midair, and shattered it into a thousand different sub-anxieties that permeate my thoughts at every second.

I am a student. Being a student has been my identity en vogue, and I have worked vigorously to pursue and a place on which I can attach myself. I am a student. I must be a perfect student in order to see the value in my existence. I am not a perfect student, therefore I do not see the value in my existence. I skip class more than I find acceptable, and I do not know everything. Sometimes, my handwriting is sloppy. Sometimes, I mispronounce a word. Sometimes, I haven’t read the material before class or outlined and memorized its contents.

But what makes me feel incredibly miserable is how I am not surrounded by perfect students. Being a person who is uncertain about my own identity means I am looking for organism with which I can play “host.” An imperfect environment, imperfect friends, and imperfect abilities means that I am not perfect. Since I feel that I cannot be perfect like I expect of myself, the next place to exert pressure would be outwardly. How can I find value in my existence if everyone around me is flawed? How can I know everything if I do not have classmates that know much at all? How can I be a perfect pupil when my professor in not Einstein?  I can’t. This is logical, but what’s missing in my desperate logic, is that perfection is unobtainable. Impossible. It will never happen. Ouch.

I am an artist. When one identity proves itself to be defective, my strategy is to try a new one. I am an artist. I feel, think, and eat creatively, and every moment I experience incredibly ingenious revelations. The clouds move in a way that incites passion in my chest. Noticing a subtle sincerity in an exchange between two strangers makes me teary-eyed and reminds me of poetry. Gazing off into empty space while feeling melancholic gives me insight to how Van Gogh must have felt. I am an artist, this is my identity. Except, I am too crippled by my own impossible expectations to ever try to express myself with real intention. I love to write, but all of my words oxidize too quickly, and they grow stale and lifeless far before I can really appreciate them. I cannot edit my writings because I usually feel like nothing is worth the lifting of a hand.

In essence, there is a profound humiliation that my artistic endeavors evoke in me, and almost no one would experience humiliation freely. That seedy feeling of inadequacy stifles my potential before it ever has a chance to be realized, and this is why I it is seldom that I work up the courage to write.

Since I cannot express myself creatively, I look to those around me to have creative temperaments, so that I can, associatively, find fulfillment as a creative person. This is a predicament, because I cannot find Van Gogh, or Vincent Gallo, or Virginia Woolf, and they were/are creative individuals. All others force me to face the bleak, sparse reality of my own life.  I am not perfect, and I am not creative.

I am a bitter person. I cannot find happiness, and this makes me petulant. I throw tantrums (and sometimes objects) and I scowl. Life did not give me what I wanted, and now I am rebelling. I do not want to submit to societal expectations, and I enjoy walking around with my hair unbrushed. I feel betrayal when I laugh at a joke, and I must be restrained in my expression. I masochistically apply asceticism to my life, or to the other extreme, I overindulge in all that is gluttonous. I am not happy. I am not pleased with things.

Except, sometimes I am happy, and sometimes I am pleased with things, which completely annihilates my identity as a bitter person. My perspective changes and my mood changes, as well. Life isn’t always miserable, and this is why I am not a bitter person.

I am not. I am not everyone around me. Everyone else is their own person. My worth is not contingent upon their worth. They do not have any obligation to make my identity of merit. I am not perfect. I am not Van Gogh, or Virginia Woolf, because no one is. They aren’t alive any more, except in some abstract bubble of existence. I am not always creative. I am not always a brilliant student. I am not always bitter.

I am. I am breathing, I am Brittany. I am alive in the 21st century, and I am in my twenties. I have ideas, and I can be illogical. I am funny, and also not funny. I cry during the most unobviously delicate moments, and I am sometimes unwisely obstinate. I like sun, and the sea, and the stars, and on some days, I like when it’s overcast. I am ceaselessly willing to make someone happy when I think they are being genuine, but I am hateful and incredulous when I think someone is not. I like really obscure music and also AC/DC or Cyndi Lauper. I wish life was a reflection of nearly any John Hughes movie. Sometimes I am an incredibly diligent student, but other times I slack off more than I should. I am infinitely fascinated by my dream life and going to sleep at night is only enjoyable because I wonder what kind of bizarre experience I will have when I’m unconscious. I like to learn the origin of a word just because I find it amazing how time can change everything. I like colors, and I think they enrich our existence as humans.

This is who I am, and any of these things can change at any moment. I am transient and formless, and in fact, forms make me feel confined. I can be a different person on most days, and probably not any single person on all days. For this, it will suffice to say that I am. I simply am, and maybe that means that I have no identity at all. Maybe no one does, and “identity” is an illusive concept that doesn’t really define anything at all.


I’m damn good at running away. I’m probably better at it than anything else I’ve ever tried. And, as you can imagine, this can create a lot of problems for me; quitting becomes easier, there’s always such a mess to clean up after one returns to the place they’ve tried to abandon, financial destructiveness, etc. Sometimes, running away is a good idea, however. Sometimes, running away is the best idea I’ve ever had. Not very long ago, I ran away to Dallas.  Here’s what that looked like.DSC_0081

On an August night, I found myself lying in bed at 1 AM unable to sleep, which gives me immense anxiety. I have insomnia. It’s annoying. But on this particular night, it was unbearable, because it was indicative of everything I was experiencing in my train wreck of a life. So, being an escapist like myself, I begin to imagine how great it would be to be somewhere not lying in bed at 1AM unable to sleep. I imagined the beach, or Paris, or the Andes.

What occurred to me, was how depressing it felt to be trapped; shackled by routines, burdened by the abstract expectations that loomed over me, telling me that I should be more normal.

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Essays, Photographs, Writing

An Escapist Takes Dallas


What’s the point of life? No, seriously. What’s the end goal? Because, in my twenty-one years of existence, I have yet to come to many reasonable conclusions. Now would be the appropriate time to disclose that I am not religious, although quite frankly, I wish I was. I’ve made a valiant effort to believe in a God, go to church, pray before dinner. But due to the unfavorable nature of my existence, I have never be able to really accept the answers that religion has to offer. So I won’t discuss religion from this point on: this is purely an existential debacle I’m trying to smooth out here.


Apparently, this is a viable option to said toothpaste dilemma.

Let me tell you what life is like. You wake up at a time that feels unpleasing to your circadian rhythm. Because this is not your natural sleep cycle, you must check for minuscule events that might have happened on Facebook or Huffington Post while you were asleep, which is really just an effort to wake yourself up with the bright screen of your phone. Groggy and tired, you walk into the bathroom, and go pee (admittedly, one of the only enjoyable events of the morning), and then you set out to make yourself look mildly presentable. You grab the toothpaste, and spend at least 90 seconds trying to get the fresh, less crusty toothpaste past the hardened barricade at the opening of the tube. Annoying! You try to get that glob of stale toothpaste off and into the trashcan, but you use toilet paper, because it’s so gross to touch that sh*t. Well, the toilet paper is clearly not made for this kind of work, so now you have stale toothpaste AND little pieces of toilet paper at the end of you toothpaste bottle. Forget that, let’s go on to something else. Breakfast: the battle of willpower and masochism. Your options are slim. Do you cook something that’s only mildly enjoyable, like an egg and cheese english muffin, or sit in self-hatred as you eat something that’s quick, yet filled with poison like a toaster strudel? You can’t even enjoy those poison-laced pastries, because you can feel them rotting you from the inside out. Continue reading

Essays, Prose, Writing

A Not-So-Zen Essay on Life

Essays, Writing

A New Generation: Millennial Rising


Lena Dunham once said, “I think I am the voice of my [the millennial] generation,” but most of the time, I wonder about what that voice sounds like. Who exactly are we? Categorically, the term millennial represents the people who were born from the 1980s-2000s, so those of us in our teens and 20-somethings.

Other names used to define our generation: Generation Y, Digital Natives, Generation Me, Echo Boomers, The Dumbest Generation, and more.
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Essays, Writing

The Underrated Offerings of the Internet

1991. My birthday, and the year the internet was made accessible to the public. What a doozy! No, but for real, the internet has transformed human life in the most unimaginable ways. I can’t say from memory, because well, the internet has been around as long as I have. But I’ve heard stories! Like, remember those times when you had a question, and had to get the answer, you either a) phone a friend, b) drive down to the library to hunt through books for who-knows-how-long, or c) just… not know the answer.


Before the Internet

Image Credit: The New Yorker

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Essays, Writing

Where is Technology Taking Education? Part I: MOOCs

If you’re at all interested in education technology, you’ve probably noticed some big changes in recent years. The internet boom has dramatically altered the way educators approach their students, and given the momentum to the slow turning wheel of education change. Many innovators, entrepreneurs, teachers, and students alike are collaborating to keep the education system on par with technological advances (although we all know that the breakneck speed of technology is far faster than any other aspect of culture). So how is technology revolutionizing education? Continue reading