University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Modern Man in Search of a Soul: Compulsion to Repeat

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Apr 16, 2015

Before coming to university I was told that I would, while here, finally ‘find’ myself. I wasn’t aware that I was missing, least of all that I had buggered off to Brighton, but apparently I was and I had. So I came to Brighton not only to come to university, but to search around the city and see I could locate myself.

What I found, probably unsurprisingly, was no great revelation about myself. I was the same person I had always been, just a little bit different. I did find one surprising thing about myself, though, and it isn’t a particularly good thing. I have discovered over the last few years that I am the kind of person that continually, almost routinely, makes the same mistake.

This mistake is an action that I continue to commit, and it is one that hurts me and those around me a great deal. It’s something I’m ashamed of, something I wish I understood, and something I really wish I had never done and hope never to do again.

And yet, I’m terrified that I will do it again – all evidence points to the fact I will. I’ve lost friends and relationships over this, as well as a great deal of self respect and respect from others.

Is this what I had found, then? Not that I was an alright guy, or a Marxist and a feminist, or a fairly good guitarist, or someone who has a good knowledge of a certain subject—but that I was a bit of a d*ck. Can one aspect of me really account for my entire identity?

Is this one aspect really the defining thing about me? I like to think not. Sure, I have done things I’m ashamed of while at university. I’ve also done a lot of things that I’m proud of. The difficulty I’m facing now is reconciling both the regrettable and commendable things I’ve learned about myself and coming up with a perception of myself that is balanced. I don’t want to leave university with the image of myself constructed entirely out of the things I regret.

I know myself better after these few years, having learned both good and bad aspects of myself, and I want to create a clear picture of myself based on all of my experiences. I didn’t ‘find’ myself at university, but I did get that clearer picture of myself. Not a negative one, either, despite the revelations of my repeated mistakes. That particularly negative aspect is something I’m trying to put a positive spin on – my knowledge of its existence means I can go about trying to understand it, and to work on healing whatever kind of wound it may turn out to be.

My mistakes, though perhaps numerous, do not define me. I can make regrettable decisions, but that doesn’t mean I should come to regret all decisions I have made nor the aspects of myself that I am proud of.

The clearer picture you can find of yourself at university is a balanced one. Its clarity highlights both beauty and imperfection; it hides nothing, but reveals the fullness of all. Ultimately, such a picture of yourself can only inspire an honest, complex, and mature understanding of yourself. This article is both self -indulgent and overly vague, so is more than likely to be a bit of a frustrating read.

I can only apologise, but you have to understand an article like this has to be both vague and self-indulgent. To reel off my own individual errors would be an act so specific as to remove any possibility of the reader relating to the actual process of committing a shameful act. I do not want scorn, or pity, but to instead show that yes – we make mistakes. Sometimes we learn from them, other times we don’t. But the mistakes don’t define us; they are blocks that we use to construct our identity, but they are only a small handful in a very large set of Lego. That message, poignant as it be may for the soon-to-graduate, wouldn’t be quite as easily received were it hidden beneath tales of how I keep cheating on women I love, would it?


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