I swear this is the last one of these things, we’re going back to random stuff like movies real soon.
Going through the message my uncle sent me several weeks ago and taking the time to think through some of the ideas presented in it has got me thinking about identity. How do we see ourselves? For a lot of people, it’s a really tough question, not because we don’t know how we see ourselves, but rather that we can’t be totally sure that the way we see ourselves is accurate. Do we overexaggerate our strengths and underestimate weaknesses in character? Do we do the opposite and consistently underestimate our own abilities whilst downplaying personal failings.
Are we at times delusional about who we are at our cores? Do we think we’re really funny when that’s just not the case? Do we think ourselves bland and basic when in reality we’re fascinating and unique individuals? Who knows?
Here’s what I know about my identity. For most of my life, I’ve felt very clearly split into two separate identities. Not in like a mental disorder kind of way where my whole personality shifts. It’s more like I can pretty clearly see that based on what decisions I make I can go down two radically different paths in life.
Let me elaborate.
On one hand, is JonnyT the entertainer. He thinks only at the moment and never about what path his life might take. He’s creative, he’s funny, and he loses his mind every day sitting through lectures for classes he has no care for at a university he doesn’t really want to be at. Every day he dreams about dropping out, moving to LA and making a go of it in entertainment. He knows full well the odds of that working in his favour are well below 1%, but he still really really wants to do it. He’s decided that it’s ok to work random jobs for the rest of his life so long as he gets to keep expressing himself in a creative way. It’s not that he doesn’t believe in God, it’s just that he doesn’t think about it ever. It just doesn’t matter to him.
On the other hand is Jonathan Tollestrup, member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He’s a deeply religious person who can relate just about everything that happens to him to the gospel. He goes to BYU because he wants to get a degree that will allow him to get a 9-5 job so that one day he can provide for a family. He does this because he knows that’s what he’s supposed to do and its definitely what his parents want him to do. He knows that he’s about to turn 26, and if he’s not careful he might end up being that weird uncle that lives on his own forever. He looks constantly to the future, and he worries about if he’ll measure up to his potential. Religion is the absolute center of his life and even though sometimes the culture of the church frustrates him he loves being a part of it.
Together there is Jonny Tollestrup. He still identifies as a member of the Church, though he’d have to admit he doesn’t think about it as much as he ought to. He’s pretty sure he could make a gospel comparison for just about every situation but opts to make jokes instead usually. He does attend BYU but holy does he not like it. He knows what he wants to do with his life and he knows that there isn’t much room for him to work on it at school. It’s not like there’s a major in stand-up with minors in blogging. He’s there because he’s too afraid to take the plunge and really shoot his shot at his dreams. He doesn’t really want to drop everything and move to LA either though. He just wants to have more time to actually try out all the whacky ideas in his head, but he worries people won’t see it as an authentic expression but rather a desperate plea for attention.
He’s all too aware of his age. 26 isn’t old for most people, but for an unwed fellow in Utah is concerning to him. also knows that being able to provide for a family is important to him because at some point he does want that. Not in the immediate future, but definitely at some point and if he’s going to do that he’s probably going to need a degree of some sort. He also realizes that he might be downloading his own insecurities onto a blog post at this very moment and that he should probably not be mentioning this stuff out loud. Too late. Later.