I’m officially a chameleon. Whenever I read a book, I want to become like that special character in it. I fantasize talking with a British accent or being a rebel without a cause. When I watch a good movie, I immediately want to dress like the main actress in it. Go trashier or more refined, depending on that not-so-random click that made me land in one of Netflix’s categories. The outcome is a forever changing identity and rather confusing traits. I’m left wondering: does this mean I have no personality at all or, alternatively, too many personalities?
In theory, we all reach a point where our identities are stable, solid. Jeffrey Arnett's theory states that our identities are formed in emerging adulthood. That is the age between 18 and 25. I am 28 and definitely not there. While humanity is expected to evolve, to get better from one generation to the next, there’s always your relatives unconditional support: “At your age I was working in four places simultaneously, sleeping no more than 3 hours a night, providing for all my family, saving 90% of my salary plus I was pregnant with you”. What went wrong?
I admit leaving sporadically empty packages in the fridge and last week I found a piece of dried bread inside the iron’s box. Could my parents, at this same age, be pledged guilty of such horrors? probably not. Does this mean my generation is doomed? I did some research. Smart people at San Diego State University believe “the whole developmental pathway has slowed down”. Even Socrates pointed out that ancient Greece youth was behaving folly. But is it really a trigger inside us or is the world to blame? There has been economic transition, technology madness, bikes instead of cars, climate change activism, vegan burgers are trending, feminism (about time), second-hand markets. Most of my friends are living abroad. I am living abroad. There is no real belonging, apart from belonging anywhere at any time. People change jobs as they change clothes (I change my opinion every morning). I could name a million examples but I’ll stop here for my readers’ sake. So that’s us, that is why. No wonder we know nothing about the world. No wonder we want to prolong adolescence, it was a safe ride, guided by our progenitors’ steady principles and durable learnings. Go on and try to step out to the unknown, to the void of uncertainty. There is no such stable environment anymore, no established society. We are ruled by change and change is what defines us.
And when I was as ready as one can be to embrace change as my most defining personality trait, when I Googled that final quote to frame my theory (arguably, excuse), history in disguise, in Heraclitus words, put me back to my place: “there is nothing permanent except change”.
Mystery unresolved. I did try though.