COFFEE SHOP IDENTITY

Varga Bar

I’m sitting in a small Sydney café called Varga at the moment, finally getting the three hours to spend by myself to birth one of these blog posts out into the world. Looking around the small, very overcrowded and ultra-chic establishment, I can’t think of a better place to go into labour…

As I said in the previous post, from our research, we have identified that there are three key things that run central to a young person’s binge drinking behaviour. Three things that our research has said a young person needs to get ‘a handle on’ in order to not feel like they have to drink to excess. In order to feel like they have a choice in their lives. They are:-

   –       Identify

   –       Relationships

   –       Purpose

So, looking at how these key areas come into play, this post specifically starts to look at that tiny/huge (whichever way you look at it) concept of ‘identity’.

Let’s start from the beginning shall we?

When a person is born, actually from the time they are conceived BAAAM!, that person has an identity. Identity begins when life begins and in that sense, it is probably in its purest form at that time. After that, for most people, our identity kind of gets covered over with a bunch of arbitrary experiences and shit that become a weak translation of our true identify.

Society gives a person a name/a number, we tell them who they are, what their place is within the world, their job, their nationality – this is who they grow up thinking they are. Society teaches them to derive their happiness and satisfaction with their situation through an attachment to toys, alcohol and coffee (etc. etc.). Then it takes them away and gives it back, according to what thought is popular at the time. 

They grow up, they move to Sydney, they get some new threads, a good job, a group of cool friends and they come into Café Varga and lucky them, they sit right opposite me as I type this article.

On the surface, sure this person has their Ray Bans and their unique ‘one of a kind’ vintage beret, but if you look just a millimetre below the surface or just watch and listen to their conversations for just a tiny second longer –  no matter what they do, one can feel the subtle energy of them just go right ahead and shine on through the cracks anyway.

It’s fascinating to watch how people have these thoughts about who they are as a person, the person they have known their whole life, the person that has looked at themselves in the mirror every morning – sometimes with love, sometimes with hate. The person that sits here now in the cafe and calculatingly glances around, referencing themselves against every other person in here to establish their social, hierarchical place in the world. Then watching those thoughts from that person become conversation, smiles, gestures, clothes and kisses. But the truth is, that these things are not the person themselves. They are only the thoughts a person has about who they are. They are not the person.

So what is a person? More to the point, what is a person’s identity? If it isn’t their name, their conversation, smile, gestures, clothes or kisses?

I believe that their identity is the energy that we all have behind these thoughts. Its not something that we get from the environment, it’s something bigger than that. As a wise man once said, ‘the self is always shining through’. No matter how much we try and cover it up, it always shines through. Like the city covered in concrete – the tiny little vine manages to find a way its way to the surface. Underlying every moment of existence is the deep, peaceful connection that all life shares with one another.

(Something interesting to do… for a week – every time you remember, say out loud, ‘the self is always coming through’. Sometimes I can catch myself doing the wackest stuff, trying to impress someone or convince myself of something to be true. )

….I now have pretty much used my threshold of post size and I haven’t really yet got into how a person’s concept of identity can manifest into dysfunctional drinking but this stuff needed to be said before we can. In the next post, I am going to look at how role models and friends actually influence a persons sense of identity around drinking behaviour. However, until then, I think if you are to get one thing out of this post – its this – your identity isn’t learned, it just is and will always just ‘be’. In the quest to become a better person, the process isn’t about adding more to a concept of identity of who you are. Its about tearing away the useless crap we have built around it. 

Who are you if you didn’t drink?

4 thoughts on “COFFEE SHOP IDENTITY

  1. nice post – that is an interesting topic indeed
    I have recently stopped drinking – in an attempt to stay healthy and productive. The weekends were just not helping me when the week of work awaits for me while my eyes and head feels like it is made of cement.

    I think drinking is part of our culture and perhaps it would make you a little bit unique in your social hierarchy but I don’t think it is crippling if you have a good group of friends whom you can hang around with drinks or not.

    As for your ray ban reference…. i don’t know if that is still the ‘cool’ item of now anymore. Every trend seems to be short lived these days and personally i think it is more practical to just find what you enjoy and stick with it and find people who appreciate you for what you are into rather than following the latest trends. Because trends are just not made to last and your self identity shouldn’t be attached to waves of trends.

    thx for sharing, looking forward to your next post about social reference groups.

    1. Thank you for the props. Good luck on the journey and I hope you get your productivity up!

      Theoretically I agree with you. But I think we still draw a lot of ‘surface’ identity from the external environment and being able to change and adapt that identity is one of the great gifts of a consumer society. That is our ‘surface’ identity, our interchangeable ‘doing’ – not our presence or energy, our ever-constant ‘being’.

      I would be keen to get your insights on the next post… I decided to go with the advertising aspect of identity and tackle role models next week. I think you will have a few things to say about it.

  2. Interesting blog you have here! It’s very refreshing!
    I am 22 and I don’t drink. Sure I’ll have a glass of wine maybe once a month, but that’s it. My friends are binge drinkers, my partner is a binge drinker, I just don’t feel the need.
    You say that three things can cause a person not to feel the need to binge drink – I completely agree with you!! I am comfortable enough in myself and around my peers not to feel the need to drink (although most of them can’t understand why I don’t like it). And I LOVE waking up on a Sunday morning and feeling great, whilst everyone else is hungover. To be honest, I feel like I have an advantage over them. I never lose control of my own body (or mind) nor am I slowly ruining it.

    You say, ‘who are you if you didn’t drink’. I’m proud to say that I know exactly who I am and don’t feel the need to cover it with alcohol 🙂
    Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who don’t know who they are without alcohol. I have one friend whom I have NEVER seen sober..

    But like jefske said above, it is our culture…sadly…
    I just wish young people could take a step back and see not only what it is doing to themselves, but to society.

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