I think in words. My mind takes information in linguistic form, and this is probably why subjects like math and chemistry never came naturally to me. There’s a lot more to them than the words themselves. The problem with thinking in words is that I label everything. Everything stays in its own linguistic box. Unfortunately, people are more complicated than a combination of letters and spaces. I tend to think of myself in terms of current roles. Graduate student. Friend. Clinician. Single. But I’ve discovered that I don’t fit into that box, and the more I try to label myself, the more I’m at war within my own brain. Yes, I’m a daughter and a sister and a friend, a student and a single woman trying to be comfortable with that fact. But my goodness, I am so much more. I am passionate and capable of so much more than any label could dictate. I may be an emotional train wreck, but I have a great capacity for love and empathy. My bleeding heart may make some events tougher on me, but it also gives me this huge advantage in dealing with people. I’m intelligent, and I love learning. I’m neurotic and a little paranoid, but I have a good head on my shoulders. While I may hold myself to a ridiculous standard, I always manage to accomplish my goals.

And this is all just a mass of words, a linguistic description of an entity who is so much more than a label. I don’t fit in a box. No human does. My life does not consist of roles I serve in the lives of other people. I am a person unto myself, and that in itself is worthy of respect. Everyone deserves to be treated with compassion and integrity simply by virtue of being human. We don’t have to earn that privilege. Don’t take advantage of someone just because you can. People aren’t playthings; they have thoughts and feelings of their own. I’m learning to respect my own feelings and myself as a human. I don’t need to let people take advantage of me simply because I like to take care of people. I’m worth more than a bored text message, and you are too.

The Underground Man

Dostoevsky’s Underground Man is an intriguing character, to say the least. He’s incredibly paradoxical, which fits in with Berman’s definition of modernity in All That’s Solid Melts Into Air. In the beginning of Dostoevsky’s novella, the narrator describes himself as a spiteful man, but soon contradicts himself in saying that he was not even capable of spite. After each point he makes, he provides a counterpoint that negates what was previously said.

I feel I find some common ground with this Underground Man. He thinks himself somehow “above” other humans intellectually, which contrasts with the “underground” image given to him. While he feels this sense of superiority in his mind, his actions belie this sentiment. He is a mouse of a man; he lets others walk all over him, and he’s resentful of this fact. However, he’s a great thinker. He is acutely aware of himself, but he finds this awareness to be detrimental to his happiness. In other words, he’s too smart for his own good. He realizes that he is merely a pawn, a body to fill a planned role, and he is unhappy with this awareness. As they say, ignorance is bliss.