Who Is The One Behind The Mask? - Thomas Mondel

How to Handle Losing Your Identity

If I would believe the voices in my head, I am both the biggest loser and the greatest human being ever.

But I guess in reality I am far from both ends and just average. But that could be just another voice too, right?

So who am “I”?

Am I really the thinking mind and the weird concepts it comes up for me? Or more like the “thing” which lies somewhere underneath it, silently watching the mind go crazy with all these concepts it thinks I am?

Wouldn’t that be closer to the truth?

And how can I sneak more of “me” pass this asshole mind and out into the world?

[Tweet “Who is the one who is AWARE that the mind is thinking stupid thoughts right now?”]

If I am sad but I am also aware that I am sad, who is the sad one and who is the one who just found out about that poor guy?

And which one is me?

All good questions.

I was watching another episode of the School of Greatness: Losing Your Dream and Overcoming Depression with Noah Galloway.

They talk about:

  • Having a dream, purpose, mission.
  • The fear of losing your dream.
  • Life hitting you to the ground.
  • And depression hitting you right after.
  • And then eventually… still overcoming all that bullshit.
  • And rising like a phoenix once more.

That’s everything I care about. And talk about. And think about. So no wonder I am drawn to this interview as well…

Noah talks about how he felt after he lost two limbs in Iraq and his career as a Soldier which he loved so much got smashed and ended in an instant. 

What is left when everything that DEFINES you and you also love is suddenly taken away from you?

What is left when the “YOU” you think you are… is just gone?

Suddenly you question the voices in your head which are telling you what you are supposed to be.

Could it be that I am something else… but my profession, career, or my idea of what I think I am?

Is there something else underneath all this superficial bullshit?

For all these years I was constantly coming up with new identities.

And eagerly clung to them for quite some time.

I was so desperately looking for something I could become or be. And I forgot to simply be. 

Here are a couple of identities I had along the way:

  • At age three I was the younger brother. I learned to shut up. To listen to my elder relatives. I learned to obey. Stepping up is dangerous. And not rewarded. Being nice is.
  • With six I was labelled the smart one. And it now makes me cringe looking back because I believed it and kept making others feel inferior to me.
  • A couple of years later my relatives kept calling my brother and my cousins “the boys”. I was always just “Thomas”. I never belonged to them. So I had the identity of “not being with the boys” for quite a while.
  • In primary school I was the one who “knows everything”. I build an identity about learning and knowing stuff. I was probably the first and only kid who ever learned for Religion class.
  • Later I was the one who never got anything worse than an “A” on a test. I DON’T MAKE MISTAKES! That identity got shattered pretty soon as well.
  • When my parents decided to separate and told me, I took on the identity of a child of a divorce. I learned that no matter what I did, it will never be GOOD ENOUGH to help them stay together. To not lose my father. I took that one personally.
  • Then I was the boy who didn’t see any sense in moving forward anymore. And after moving to a new school in another city I somehow “manifested” myself a serious hip injury where blood was flooding into my joint capsule of my right leg and I couldn’t walk or even step on it from one day to the other. So I guess I really didn’t want to move forward. Literally.
  • I got worse and worse in school and didn’t give a crap about it.
  • After my mother re-marrying and moving to the big city I was the outsider from the countryside who nobody could understand because of his Arnold Schwarzenegger like dialect.
  • For the following year I was the child who hates his mother for dragging it somewhere I never wanted to be. Away from all my friends and into a world where nobody seemed to like him. That was a very lonely year.
  • Then the one girl I had my first crush on rejected me and said she doesn’t have any feelings for me. That hurt for quite some time and I don’t know what identity came from that. But I carried this one with me for the years to come.
  • In high school I had my first girlfriend. Literally five seconds after kissing her for the first time I ran into a street light pole. That experience lingered around for some time as well.
  • Then I broke up with her because I found out that “she is not cool” and being with her harmed my social circle. I thought. I was one who dated “THAT GIRL?!” for pretty much the rest of high school.
  • Later I became the best at playing Star Wars Jedi Knight II. Then Warcraft III. Then League of Legends. These achievements made up for most of my confidence in teenage years and early twenties.
  • Then I studied Computer Science and Game Development. And build an ego around being a Bachelor and Master of Science. Degrees for the win. I guess…
  • Later I hated my job. And in my head I was the one who tried EVERYTHING to quit this misery and find alternatives. I went crazy about this idea.
  • Later I became the “inspirational blogger”. Look at me! I am saving the world!!!111
  • I build up a profitable app business on the side and came up with another new concept of what I think I am. Now I was the one who “hacked” life and cashed in living The 4-Hour Workweek. Big ego crash incoming in…3…2…
  • Now I am the one who is depressed about life.
  • The one who hates himself.
  • The one who breaks up with his girlfriend because he feels rejected from her although he can’t even love himself.
  • And lately I am the one getting a hold of his life again. Picking himself up and stepping up once more.

I could have listed many more. But you get the point. And reading through them makes me kinda sad.

[Tweet “I was so desperately looking for something I could become or be. And I forgot to simply be. “]

Am I any of these “identities”?

I don’t know.

But I know that whenever one of them got ripped away from me… I was still there.

I was still around.

And that’s pretty cool.

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