An identity crisis can be harmful to more than the individual | PostIndependent.com

An identity crisis can be harmful to more than the individual

Ross Talbott
Out on a Limb
Ross Talbott
Staff Photo |

Back in my days at the university, I often felt that the professors were out of touch with reality.

As years have passed and piles of experience have accumulated it has only served to strengthen that impression.

Most professors have not lived for any length of time outside of academia and have not worked in the trenches of life.

They have also acquired an identity that locks them into their philosophy.

The problem is that once something becomes part of our identity it is almost impossible to readjust if we realize that it is counterproductive and/or unfulfilling.

Unfortunately, they pass their beliefs onto students, which often gives the students a lopsided or distorted launch into life.

I took psychology classes, but it took years of experience for me to realize that the foundational psychological principle is a sense of identity.

To cite some obvious examples, consider first of all that men’s identity is tied up in their job or profession.

The way they dress, the vehicle they drive, the way they talk and who they hang out with are all expressions of their identity.

Can you imagine a professor driving a beat-up pickup and wearing a tool belt?

The crisis in a man’s life comes when he loses his job or has to change professions for whatever reason.

It could be the economy or an accident or something else that forces an identity change.

When the oil shale in Rifle suddenly shut down, domestic violence and other problems escalated.

On the flip side, women have some fundamental identity challenges.

The most obvious of these is marriage.

In our culture a woman getting married gets a new last name and a plethora of new family relationships.

In today’s American society some women retain their maiden name in an effort to stabilize.

The other critical identity crisis women face is divorce or remarriage.

I just can’t imagine the stress of life adjustment that that creates.

Another critical aspect of our identity struggle is religion.

For some reason we embrace a spiritual path.

It may be family heritage or it might be that deep sense of searching for meaning in life.

The problem here is that once it becomes our identity it is almost impossible to readjust if we realize that particular spiritual path is counterproductive and/or unfulfilling.

We find ourselves angrily defending our position because it has become our identity.

The establishment of a satisfactory identity is the major problem for all youth. The primary source of identity for children is their family.

When I meet people in the Palisade area, they say, “Oh, you’re Harry’s brother.” Down there that is my identity.

If, as a child growing up, your family is a mess, you’ve got a problem.

Join a gang, play football or move out. The options are often ugly.

A young lady can get married and change her name.

Well, the issue is complex and I could write a book on it, but you’ve got to be wondering where I’m going in this short space.

With all the political stuff going on and with all the emails and television, I’ve come to realize that political position becomes a huge factor in our identity.

Our political position determines what we read, what we listen to, who we hang out with, what organizations we belong to and ultimately how we vote.

The problem is that if we begin to suspect our train is headed down the wrong track, we still hang on for dear life because to change would be an identity crisis.

Your professional life determines your life style.

Your religious identity determines your eternity.

Your political identity may help determine the fate of our nation.

Back off and take a hard look.

“Out On A Limb” appears on the first Tuesday of the month. Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle, where he is a business owner.


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