I often imagine what life would be if it resembled TV shows like Friends. Chandler’s self-deprecating jokes, Monica’s extreme compulsion to be organized, Joey’s simple-mindedness, Phoebe’s flakiness, every character existing to serve a specific purpose, and always acting in accordance with their character. Perhaps the prevalence of media’s influence like this and its inability to reflect the complex characteristics of a real person makes me believe that I’m alone for struggling with my identity.
I think it stems from suppressing my feelings down for too long and doing what I think I should do instead of what I want to do. It’s been hidden away for so long that it’s hard to distinguish between the two. It wouldn’t be a problem if the two were consistent with each other, but most times, it’s the polar opposite and that’s when my sense of identity breaks down, and I’m thrown into an endless cycle of overthinking and overanalyzing.
I just want to have a concrete set of things that identify what I am, and that all the actions stem from. Up until ninth grade, I had that specific identity. I loved to play games and that’s who I was. I stayed home hours on end, on a Skype call with online friends, barely even leaving the house or physically interacting with my friends. All my conversations revolved around the game I played, whether it be DOTA 2 and all the different play styles I can take with a certain character, or The Binding of Isaac and the different play throughs I had. Looking back at it, it’s pretty depressing, the kind of lifestyle I led. I remember countless times I shouted at my mom saying, “No Mom, I can’t pause an online game!” when all she wanted was for me to eat dinner before the food got cold. I also shouted and threw my headphones at my monitor when I lost a game, screamed when the connection went bad, swore and shouted at my teammates for every mistake they made.
I’ve changed significantly since then. I got inspired by a Youtube persona I follow, developing a new interest in pumping iron. With that, everything started to change. I felt more confident, I went out more on social gatherings, and I made new friends that I now share precious memories with. Memories that are both good and bad, but nonetheless, memories that exist outside the virtual realm. Throughout this transformation, I eventually phased out gaming altogether, leaving behind everything related. You can say that I jumped from one extreme end of the spectrum to the other end. Although I may seem better off, I really am not.
I appreciate everything that happened. I really feel like I’m a better person than I was before. This transformation, I believe, has really turned my life around, but that’s the catch. The turnaround was so drastic that I’m not sure what I am. When I’m in the house for a while I’ll get lonely and sad, but when I’m outside with my friends I’ll get exhausted and sad. I feel comfort in having things in order, but I seek spontaneous activities outside of my control. I’m unable to boast about my achievements but I’m a narcissist, a loudmouth, and an egomaniac. On every situation, I’m two things polar opposite.
Inside my head, two demons constantly battle for dominance. I’ve found my way of dealing with it, by jamming the brake and taking the controls away from my emotions. All the decisions now come from my head. I still feel the polarizing personalities, they just no longer get to make decisions on what I do. Emotions now sit on the passenger seat of the ride that is my life. I’ve been hurt numerous times in the past, and on every occasion, my response was, What now? How does this affect my future? What is the next logical move? When my best friend betrayed me, all I could think was— it’ll suck to find someone else to hang out despite the fact that for the past year and a half, we’d shared our closest secrets and had supported each other. Sometimes at night, I’ll find myself thinking over those important moments of my life. I’ll begin to feel sad until a single tear forms from my eye and goes away and then I’m left feeling nothing once again.
I’ve written this essay thousands of times. Not on paper like this one, but in my mind as I overthink and overanalyze. It’s just what I do, no matter how hard I try to not think, to just enjoy the moment. I’ve gotten used to being this way. I doubt it’s something I’ll ever figure out. Despite all this, I’ll never stop wishing for a revelation amidst all the thinking. One that would make all the other pieces click, and rid me of this curse. I just hope it’ll be soon.
Min Ki Kim is a Korean student attending high school in Indonesia. After taking a long hiatus from writing since middle school, he is revisiting it with the push from his English teacher.