Identity crises, personality disorders and ‘Rap City’

Jason Okamoto

Without a doubt, there is something wrong with me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but since beginning college I have failed to find a consistent persona that I can fit into comfortably. After five years at Sacramento State, only a few things I’ve learned stand out in my mind:

I’ll never be cool no matter how hard I try. Different drugs give you different kinds of hangovers. And you can only use the word “ass” in your columns so many times before people start referring to you as the “ass man.”

I have not really developed as a person, and I attribute this to my personality disorder. The problem is that I have never taken the time to properly diagnose myself. Believing that people owe it to themselves to at least figure out what’s wrong with them, I’ve set out to do the same.

For this, I turned to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. I easily avoided the first couple listed personality disorders, antisocial personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder. Then I discovered borderline personality disorder, which describes its victims as self-destructive and unstable.

This has me written all over it. Why else would I be at Sac State this long–with a barely average GPA–if I weren’t a “self-destructive” student?

According to the DSM, the first indicators of borderline disorder are “frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.” Throughout my college career, it seems that most of my best friends have grown up or have moved onto real careers. I’m left alone on weekends, leaving voicemails that are never returned.

Another symptom of borderline personality disorder is identity disturbance, which is “marked by a persistent unstable self-image or sense of self.” In the late ’90s, I realized that I would never be able to adopt the images of rappers on BET’s “Rap City” whom I admired greatly. Not only was I not black, but I couldn’t rap, either (Eminem wasn’t around yet). In fact, I haven’t yet developed a talent that would ever justify mean-mugging a camera while sporting a crooked baseball cap.

I’ve also tried adopting a lot of other different personas during college: a Beat poet, a British rock star and a race car driver. I’ve always had the feeling that my professors can see right through my disingenuous stylings. And Lord knows my backpack has “loser” written all over it.

The DSM list continues: “Impulsive in at least two of the following: spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating.” I qualify here with my DVD’s, Internet porn, alcohol, totaled ’98 Toyota Corolla and all kinds of foods that might potentially clog my arteries.

Among the remaining indicators, however, one in particular contradicts the way I’ve felt for the last couple years–a feeling of “emptiness.” I hardly feel empty. Professors have filled my head with knowledge and new college friends have filled my heart with joy and compassion.

If I were to do college all over again I might sit in the front during every class and read every textbook cover-to-cover. I might raise my hand to respond to every question the professor asked, and have treated all my fellow students for drinks after every test we took. This way, I could blame my borderline personality disorder if I wasn’t referred to the student body as “Mr. Perfect.”

Oh well. Being known as the “ass man” among the fine students of Sac State is an honor in itself.