I started writing this bit in the train a while ago to figure out my current affairs. This summer I made another one of those “what am I going to do with my life” decisions for the coming years. I chose to start studying sociology, so that’s what I’m doing now.
Why did I do that? To answer that, I needed to define part of who I am as well. This post is the result of that introspection. Enjoy.
I’m somewhat of a loner. I spend most of my spare time in solitude, and most of my decisions are made through consciously prioritizing myself. How did I turn out like that? I think there are two main reasons: my family history and all my moving around.
Let’s start with my family. Two main things define my family: it is small and it is fractured. Up until recently it consisted of my mother, my aunt, her two sons, my grandmother (she died early 2004) and myself – six in total. Of these, my mum hates my aunt, my cousins dislike my mum, my aunt doesn’t care (anymore) for my mum, my eldest cousin doesn’t really care about anyone except maybe his brother and my grandmother seasonally liked or disliked both her daughters. I get along with everyone, or so I’d like to think. As far as I know, the internal relations of my family look like this:
Do note that this is my interpretation, not fact. It’s not like I interviewed everyone, this is just the impression I got during my life so far.
Even with my grandmother gone, the situation is unchanged. When I was younger, I continuously tried to improve the situation, to create more green lines if you will. I would be involved in family politics: defending people whenever I felt it was due. I tried to persuade, reason and appeal. When I aligned myself with any family member I did this in all sincerity and I gave credence to everyone’s reasons and arguments and judgments.
Needless to say, this strategy failed massively. I got to a point where I received hostilities from multiple sides, and it was then that I simply stopped bothering. I forced myself into apathy on such family matters and refused to listen or discuss things whenever the subject turned to any family talk where I would be forced to pick a side.
But by forcing myself to be a neutral party I also lost a general feeling of allegiance. It created some emotional distance, and I’m sure some would call it a touch merciless. At any rate, I have a strong feeling of being on my own. I still have a great deal of care for my family and I am dead certain that if I get into deep shit both my mum and my aunt will help me out, no questions asked. But when push comes to shove and I am forced to pick a side, I will always pick myself.
I have also moved a lot in my life, having switched schools a total of eight times. Consequently I never had a chance to join a lasting group of friends in a certain area. Friendship upkeep was pretty high and I’m already pretty terrible at keeping in touch with people – the general rule is that if people do not approach me every now and then, contact will die out.
One of the consequences of this is that my sense of loyalty is, if not shattered, then at least rather different from most people’s interpretation. I feel that how loyalty is commonly understood – with a heavy connotation of ‘blindness’ – is foolish, counterproductive and irrational. Whether people will get my support generally depends on their merit as I perceive it. No-one enjoys my unconditional support.
Consequently I also don’t feel I have allegiance towards anyone in particular. I don’t feel obligated towards Dutch society to be a model citizen with some corporate career. I don’t feel I need to impress my family or do things they approve or disapprove of. I do things for myself.
I’ll wrap this up by saying that I chose to study sociology out of self interest. I like studying so I will prolong that state of being as long as I am able. I have no desire to go out and find jobs and sell myself in job interviews, so I continue doing what I feel like.
There are some specific reasons for picking sociology. For starters, my thesis is about cooperation in a virtual community, a topic which has sociology written all over it, both in subject matter and methodology. Secondly, my best friend Cello has chosen it and I figure that doing the same study will help both of us in terms of performance and fun. Lastly, there is some overlap between sociology and media studies as well as with politics and religions, two subject fields I like to spend my spare time on.
Thanks for reading,