On High School and Identity Formation

June 4, 2007

This is when you really start deciding who you are.

This is when you choose a look. This is when you start saying “dude” all the time, and without scare quotes, or only sometimes and heavily ironized, or maybe not at all. This is when you get your first tattoo and stud, or go for the cords and the blue oxford shirt. This is when you decide to study hard, to get top marks, even though it takes a lot of time — or you decide to blow it off and cruise with Bs, or drop out entirely and fuck ’em all. This is when you decide that you are the kind of person who really cares about the environment or gender equality or you decide that taking political positions is just so affected. If you’re more or less embedded in a minority niche, ethnic or economic, or both, this is when you decide to negotiate the dominant culture or, because the very idea of that is humiliating, you commit to the enterprises that belong to you already. This is when you get invested in team sports, or attach yourself to a skateboard and join the crew down at the financial center plaza. This is when you dabble in a bit of both, or several, because you’ve got other ideas, you’re not sure exactly what, sort of a loner-artist-type thing developing — but there’s examples of that in every third thing you read and see as well, so you’ve got the company of reflection even when you “go your own way,” because that’s such a category too, there’s no escaping it, this side of madness anyway, and even then, half the school shooters in the heartland saw themselves as Neo in The Matrix, or something along those lines, didn’t they?

Above all, this is when you choose the music you will live by, a soundtrack to accompany the performance of your life.

~ On High School, from Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It by Thomas De Zengotita

Fucking insane. All that stuff really does go on during high school. All the creation of identity. That must be why everyone in middle school yearbooks looks more or less the same: the same bland, childish clothes, hair, face. Except for the few rare exceptions that have already ‘high schooled’ ahead of their time.

And I don’t see a way to escape. Yet. It seems like no matter what direction you go, you’re still stuck in your label, even if it’s just the label of having no label. The identity of having no identity.

‘This is the soundtrack for our movie. Would you tell me when we get to the best part? I’ll play it for you.’

Ugh. What an ironic age we live in.

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One Response to “On High School and Identity Formation”

  1. dave in the back said

    Lol Dave. Sounds like someone is suffering from IMS.

    Very true though. The way I see it, your identity is mainly how others see and interpret you. You can attempt to manipulate this by changing your appearance, wording, or culture, but the point is, people are going to think something of you because you exist. And on that note, sleepy time it is.

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