I’ve struggled a bit, recently, with identity.

This has always been a bit of a weakness for me, partly because I’ve never really felt like I’ve fit in anywhere, and because I’ve sometimes felt like I never will. But given my seven-month break from full-time employment and recent changes to my relationship status, I’ve relaxed into a pattern of feeling merely ordinary.

I know that we can’t all be special gothic snowflakes and, as humans, we have no right to feel ‘special’ through every second of every minute of every day but lately, I’ve felt merely like one of the crowd; yet, a crowd in which I don’t truly ‘fit in’ with. Yes, I am aware of the glaring oxymoron: how can you feel just part of a crowd if you feel like you stand out as ‘different’ within it? I don’t know; maybe I feel camouflaged by the other, regular, shambling humans of the world and obscured by the lights that burn brighter in society. I’m not saying that I deserve to stand out or be praised for my achievements/’me’-ness, I just mean that I’m too keenly aware of my role as merely a bipedal mammal in a overpopulated society of bipedal mammals and so have become disillusioned as to how I can make a meaningful impact on the bipedal mammals in my close proximity or the bipedal mammal population as a whole.

Maybe if I believed in religion – or a higher purpose for each and every one of us – then I could have the faith to recognise that we’re all part of highly connected and social society, and that the network of friendships and familyships (and the love that is transmitted along the conduits between them) is what arguably leads to social (and individual) progress. It’s my background as a scientist and engineer, though, that makes me see human society as simply one of thousands of other species; and that the individual populants have no God- or chance-given right to feel anything but part of the hive. I’m not trying to put an outright downer on anything; I’m just expressing my grounded view that – as humans – we’re nothing special. At least, not in the context of the Universe as a whole.

But: you know what? Even in that functional view of the world, we all still have our place and our unique roles. We’re all cogs in the machine; cogs of all different shapes and sizes and functions. I am different. At the very least, I am unique from all the other bipedal mammals in the world, and I have my own – unique – thoughts, talents and abilities that cause me to mean something to the bipedal mammals around me and, who knows, maybe one day mean something special to someone.

So, in the spirit of self-improvement and recognising all of the elements that make up ‘me’ and ‘me’ alone, I thought I’d set myself some homework: use the alphabet (A-Z) to list all of the things I enjoy and that work together to construct the unique bipedal mammal that is ‘me’; what you’d find if you cut me open and performed some mass spectrometry on my chemical formula (FYI: I’d rather you didn’t cut me open, but it’s really up to you).

[A] AFI, Assassin’s Creed

[B] Board Games, B-Movies

[C] Clerks, Chiptune

[D] Daft Punk, Dieselpunk

[E] Earl Grey, Edgeworth (Miles)

[F] Final Fantasy, Formula One

[G] Game of Thrones, Gory Horror Films

[H] Half-Life, Houmous

[I] Inception, In-Line Skating

[J] Japanese Cinema/Animation, Jam on Toast

[K] Kickstarter, Ke$ha

[L] Less Than Jake, Lovecraft (H. P.)

[M] Monkey Island (the Secret of), Monty Python

[N] Nine Inch Nails, Night-Time City Lights

[O] Okami, Orbital Mechanics

[P] Point-and-Click Adventure Games, Peep Show

[Q] Quizzes, QI

[R] Rush [the band], Rez

[S] Star Wars, Scott Pilgrim

[T] Turisas, Terry Pratchett

[U] Ümlaüts, Unending Sarcasm

[V] Velociraptors, Victorian London

[W] Wes Anderson, WASD + mouse

[X] Xenoblade Chronicles, X-Files (the)

[Y] YouTube Parties, Your Mum

[Z] Zelda (The Legend of), Zombie Nazis


Furthermore to this activity, I also recently started a self-imposed task to enrich my life with more positive, affirming music that encourages me feel good and awesome and other positive words. I called this task #Rule32, from Zombieland’s wise words to “Enjoy the little things”. So, I now have a Spotify playlist with which, each day, or at least every day I remember to, I add a new song that makes me feel like an awesome person. You can find it here:

Today’s song (013 // Foo Fighters – Something from Nothing) has particular meaning for me on this journey, so I’m going to write a few words about it: Foo Fighters were the first band that I properly got into on my journey to rock/metal addiction, around the time of There is Nothing Left to Lose. All of Dave Grohl’s work has properly captivated me (from Nirvana to Probot to Them Crooked Vultures to his drumming with QOTSA, Ghost, Tenacious D, yada yada yada), but Foo Fighters have always hit me direct in the heart.

‘Something from Nothing’ hits doubly hard, because it rings true with me: in truth, I’ve made something from nothing; I’ve made a something of myself, all on my own. Everything I’ve done and achieved in my life, I’ve done on my own. I’ve had very little in the way of leg-ups in life, and I’ve worked fucking hard to make everything I’ve made for myself. I’ve been lucky as well, but everything that I’ve gathered around me and left in my wake is the result of an incredible amount of perspiration, dedication and persistence.

I came from a tiny, rural town in the middle of nowhere, escaped the trappings of being overweight, lonely, picked-on, confused, afraid and whatever-the-hell-else to push myself hard enough to get through ten+ years of hard work to become a Master of Aerospace Engineering (with Astronautics) and, latterly, a full-on Doctor of Philosophy in space-y type stuff. I’m soon going to be starting a new job that continues this career path, and pushes me even higher and harder. Even if my brain sometimes try to convince me otherwise, I’ve achieved an incredible amount and have turned into a person that I’m proud to be.

I am something from nothing. I, more than anyone, need to remember that.


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