In propositional logic, a statement is said to be logically consistent if it contains no logical contradictions. If I say, “I like ice cream and I don’t like ice cream”, then one of the two opinions on ice cream must be false, or else my statement would be logically inconsistent. It seems obvious why we should strive for logical consistency in our thoughts, arguments, and assertions: contradicting yourself makes the thought incoherent. Yet my identity seems to be determined by an onslaught of contradictions I try, and fail, to make logically consistent.

Eat healthy foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables for every meal. Eat whatever you are craving. You must get good grades and a respectable GPA. Marks won’t matter in 10 years, nor are they a reflection of your intelligence. Sleep 8 hours a day. Make sure you schedule enough waking-tasks that take 20 hours. Do things solely for your resume that will benefit your future career. Go to the party or the social because you are only 20 years old once. Post whatever you want on social media and make Instagram casual. Post only photos that you look your best in so you can measure up to the models on social media.

Whether we want to or not, our identity consists of rejections or acceptances of societal norms. If a parent tells us it is important to get a high GPA, we either decide that this is valuable and devote our time to achieving this goal, or we reject it and act accordingly. Assumed in this expectation is the understanding that to achieve a high GPA, we must sacrifice or reject another goal. These imperatives are often reinforced by family and friends who have our best interests in mind; however, they often describe an unnecessarily extreme stance. 

Admittedly, many of these statements can be resolved by finding a medium or some way of fulfilling both concurrently, but I cannot escape the fact that they are contradictory, and making sense of two opposing imperatives can be incredibly overwhelming. I identify with neither of my options, but sometimes it feels like other choices, such as “both” or “neither” are not available to me. It is not as though you can vote for a combination of two political parties; you have to decide which you better align with. Thankfully, discovering your identity is not like voting and the mechanism for making a decision is not like choosing one option on a ballot of character traits. Determining who I am means hearing these contradictory options and discarding both, in favour of a combination I think represents my desires best. This means going against my instinct to rely on those who have my best interest in mind, and rejecting the advice given to me. I am not very good at this and often find myself becoming mesmerized by one pole or the other because I believe my identity should be based on one of them. Instead of, “grades are not the only indicator of success”, I often adopt the mentality that “I must have a high GPA” because that is the imperative society reinforces.

Rarely do I find myself being drawn to the happy medium which resolves the contradiction, but I am learning to accept that it is okay if it doesn’t all make sense. This is not logic class, and the presence of contradictory desires have no bearing on my life. I can strive to have a high GPA without writing off all hope of having a social life. They are not mutually exclusive. My identity does not need to revolve around the absolute fulfillment of certain traits or behaviours. I have gradually understood that in certain settings, I identify with one stance, whereas in others I identify with both, or even neither of them. Instead of viewing these as dichotomous goals, I imagine a spectrum of “studious-ness” or a spectrum of “health” I move along to find the ideal spot. Instead of trying to label myself as somebody who always identifies herself with healthy foods or casual Instagram posts, I have begun to think of my identity as evolving along this spectrum, especially as my values and circumstances change. I believe there is value in remaining undecided because it enables growth, which is much more comforting than the need to conform to one extreme. No longer do I need to grapple with contradictory goals. Instead, I resolve myself to see aspects of my identity as an evolving medium.

About The Author

Claire Iacobucci (she/her) is an Online Contributor for MUSE. She loves chocolate, hiking, and making horrendous puns

Header Graphic by Ellie Horning
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