I share two traits in common with gold.

The first is that I’m worth over a thousand dollars per ounce, and the second is that I’m highly malleable. And by that I mean I’m pretty impressionable; easily molded to suit whoever is interested. I’m generally pretty happy to change aspects of myself if someone wants me to.

The problem is that sometimes it can be a bit hard to tell where other people end and I begin. I know this sounds like an identity crisis. Perhaps it is.

Most of the things that people associate with me are things that I’ve changed over the years to suit one person or another. Take my musical tastes, the clothes that I wear, the sports I enjoy, my career path, the TV shows I watch, the words I use to communicate… I didn’t arrive at any of these on my own. Let’s run down the list, shall we?

Musical tastes? Between 2003 when I started actually listening to non-video game music and today, the vast majority of music in my life has been music supplied by various girls who I’ve been trying to impress. They’d send me songs by their favourite bands and I’d tell them how much I enjoyed them. In years past I’d even go out and buy the band t-shirts of those bands because I figured doing so would be worth some brownie points. Scrolling down my iTunes, there are only a few artists that I can say I arrived at on my own and that I didn’t start listening to because someone else thought I’d be cooler if I did.

Clothing? Anyone with eyes can see that my wardrobe has completely changed over the last four years or so. And anyone with a brain knows why. Perhaps it’s a change for the better, but it’s not something I would have come to on my own.

Sports is more of a mixed bag. Things like curling and fencing I got into on my own (trust me, no one thought I’d be cooler if I watched a lot of curling on TV), but baseball is a product of my mother, and I was indifferent toward hockey until I started hanging out with a new group of friend around 2004. They were all nuts about hockey, and so of course I couldn’t be “one of the guys” unless I too was nuts about hockey, and so I told them I was a diehard Calgary Flames fan. In reality I only had a passive interest in the Flames at the time and had only watched a handful of their games over the years. I could name exactly one player on the team: Jarome Iginla. But in order to fit in I started watching the games and learning the players’ names. As fate would have it, that was the year the Flames ended a seven-year run of futility and made the finals out of nowhere. Had that not happened, perhaps my love for the sport would have faded once I lost contact with those guys three years later.

Career? The extent to which my parents have pushed me on this front is worthy of an entire blog of its own. Pretty much from birth I was offered the choice between becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Fortunately I happened to enjoy studying law, but I can’t help but wonder where I would have ended up if I’d be able to make a decision without any outside influence. Perhaps I’d have ended up in law regardless. Perhaps not.

TV? Aside from sports and the occasional Disney show, I don’t think I’d have watched any TV in the last decade if not for other people telling me what to watch and when to watch it.

Even my speech isn’t my own, and this is the worst one of all. The fact is, most of what I say comes from one source or another. “Guys?” “Let us fuck” “I’m so tired I smell colours” “In some cultures, that means we’re married” “Jacuzz” “The haircut cycle of shame” “Glorious”. All of these and many, many more have been pulled from some other source shamelessly without crediting said source. In fact, I try my best to pull material from places that I know my particular audience won’t know to make me seem more original so that whoever I’m talking to will find me funny and like me more. But sometimes it’s difficult because I can’t tell the difference between an original thought and something I’ve stolen. It’s pathetic, and it makes me wonder whether I’ve even had an original thought in my life.

In the short term, being malleable is probably a good thing. It has allowed me to make friends. Not many, but enough. People often gravitate towards others with similar interests, and so being able to convince myself that I was interested in all these things was important. Like a chameleon, I adapted to my surroundings. I was a different person depending on who I was talking to. That may sound disingenuous, but I had a couple of great years at the end of elementary school because of it, and a couple of really great years at the end of high school because of it.

After a while, adapting to how I thought other people wanted me to be became routine. I lived my life trying to make sure that people were satisfied with me. I still do.

And now, I can’t help but wonder what parts of me are actually me, and what parts only exist because one day I decided that it was more important for other people to like me than it was for me to like myself.

Maybe it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I think this is at least somewhat concerning.

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