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By Asha
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To Invest in an Identity on the First Day

During introduction to my Advanced Economics course, while I did find myself slightly unsettled by some of his ideas about economics, I found very interesting my instructor’s explanation of ‘human capital.’ While most of his day is spent teaching high school, he is also an entreprenuer. He went on to explain his current process of collaborating with larger corporate entities and possible investors. If the school makes cuts, or if he makes a bad business deal, he has another foot to stand on.

In high school, I am what people call a ‘floater.’ I sometimes hang out with people from my old school, sometimes from my new, sometimes with one crowd and other times another, but I never get so attached as to become a part of a particular group myself. This makes me a good observer.

He explained that while many people put all of their income-producing human capital into one corporation, a corporation spreads its profits amongst so many people that if it loses a working contributor, it can recover. But, if the person who has invested all of their human capital into the corporation loses their position at the corporation, they are at a total loss.

Today, I see most clearly, the divisions in my surroundings. The first day of high school highlights trends and dynamics that exist in every network of people. I see who is choosing between which group to sit with at lunch and who is trying to find a spot where they feel they can sit. The table spread with books and papers versus ipods and cell phones. What I am seeing in the lunchroom and at the assembly in the auditorium is a series of seriously unbalanced investments of human capital.

In the decisions I make personally, self-reliance proves to be much more valuable to me than fitting in a traditional sense. That’s not to say I’m above finding ways to survive the hierarchy of high school. I’ve learned not to struggle for reputation-maintenance. I would much rather do something on my own and meet friends later. Call me loner during 6th period. Call me butterfly at lunch. I have almost mastered dodging the label gun.

My ‘floater’ status requires a ‘don’t know, don’t care’ attitude toward identification. An eggs-in-one-basket investment in a clique centered around one particular interest or activity is a high risk investment because while a definite lunch table and guaranteed inclusion in Saturday night plans provide security, the possibility of losing interest in your activity or for a disagreement to cut your ties to the group poses the potential for a sudden loss of everything. This is where high school incentivizes conformity. The difference between rolling deep and rolling solo becomes one of control. A clique has collection control of the image of its members. Just like a corporation has control over the income of workers. But this comes at the loss of control over one’s personal decisions. A loner has control via being free from permanent ties to others. This control is the control of identity. The former is control of reputation.

The freedom of not having a reputation has provided me the opportunity to focus on identity. I have been shaping who I am, not who everybody thinks I am. As a writer, a photographer, a daydreamer, I think the identity I’ve found in high school is the observer. I choose to exist in a place that is a little bit removed. I’ve invested in investing in everything.