Identity Crisis

Identity is a weird thing.  It is, for the most part, completely arbitrary and /or random.  And most of the things we think of as US aren’t necessarily defining who we are.  Or they don’t have to be.

I’m a Texan, for example.  This is a simple truth.  I was born in Texas.  I live in Texas.  By the most direct and factual definition of the term: I am a Texan.  But…

I don’t own a gun.  Nor do I have any interest in owning a gun.  I don’t listen to country music.  I wear sneakers, not boots.  I’m definitely more liberal than conservative.  And, really, so many things that go with the Texan label simply do not apply to me or my life.

These do not make me less of a Texan as a point of fact.  But, if being Texan is an identity, if it comes with certain assumed characteristics . . . well . . . I’m not Texan.

It’s not as if I have anything against country music or boots.  And, while I’m inclined to think more gun control would be a good thing, I also don’t really care much if people want to own guns.  But if you’re idea of a Texan is a rootin’ tootin’, good ol’ boy who likes going hunting (and odds are good that if a character is defined as Texan then he will like doing at least some of those things) then I fall short.

So what does it mean?  Does the term really mean anything if it can be so easily broken and ignored?  Can Texan be my identity if I don’t really fit the ideal state of Texan-osity?  Like Plato’s shadows on a cave wall, is there a perfect Texan, The Texan, who is everything a Texan should be?

Or is it all just random, flawed assumptions?

I was born in El Paso, after all.  Just miles from both Mexico and New Mexico.  If I’d been born on one side of an imaginary line, would I be any different than I am now?  It’s a silly question, but like so many silly questions, it can be a launching pad to greater mysteries.

If those terms that define us can be wrong then what good are they?  For every label I wear, there are certain qualities that I embody, but just as many exceptions.  And that’s not unusual.  That’s standard.  So few of us easily fit into cookie cutter categories.  And those of us that do always seem the poorer for it, if you ask me.

So what’s it all mean?  I don’t know.  Just a question without an easy answer.  But usually, those are the most interesting type.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,

Lee

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3 Comments

  1. Rippley
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    No boots? No gun? No country music or ten gallon hat? You, sir, are not a Texan. Texas fights to keep their stereotypes. If you haven’t put down your gun, taken off your boots and grabbed your ten gallon hat to sexual intercourse with either a relative or a farm animal, then you are not a Texan. Texans are good ‘ol boy pig molesters.

    The way I see it you have two choices: 1) remain a pig or a cousin molester, or 2) move to California (to the Bay Area). The Bay Area has a whole art district, and incest, as well as, bestiality are illegal. If you don’t like California move to New York. The other states are full of media hating fascists, so never move outside either New York or California.

  2. Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    You at least have a cowboy hat right? I believe its against the law to not own one in Texas.

    But seriously, I really like this question. Its really thought provoking and it kinda hits home. I’m a korean girl, adopted and raised in a Caucasian family with four siblings (2 Filipino, 1 Caucasian, and my half brother). We lived in NY, CA, MA, NH, CO, VA, TX, and GA while growing up. Sometimes I wonder who I would be if I was never adopted and stayed in Korea. I also don’t feel deeply rooted to one place. I guess I feel like when it comes to stereotypes I really don’t fall under any either. When people see me they think I come from an Asian family that speaks Korean, that I cook rice dishes for dinner, and that I aspire to being a doctor. I couldn’t be father from that (though I do like rice).

    Stereotypes are a generalization that make it easier for a person to label someone and put them in a neat little box. But I think putting people in boxes in theory sounds nice (or just very organized rather), but its an impossible feat. People are chaotic, complicated, messed up little devils that are composed of a great many things. Being Texan is a fraction of who you are and could possibly be out shown by other more important characteristics. Like when I think A. Lee Martinez I don’t usually think Texan, I think writer. I then think Tron Legacy hater. . . (jk) Even though our surroundings influence us we aren’t defined by where we live. Yes people will still stereotype, but maybe stereotyping is just a first impression, a summary to a collection of stories and a thousand memories.

  3. lea
    Posted June 12, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Maybe by being a Texan, they just based it during those old times what a Texan looks like. But it doesn’t apply now because time change everything. As I said, it’s just an impression.

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