When I wanted to explain my predicament to people whom I vainly imagined might have been in a position to help. I might have said, “I do things to conform but not because I want to.” This is the state of mind that I consider to be wholly depictive of the infantry stage. You’ve got your marching orders but you haven’t developed your self-identity. Those whose stages of life were more akin to infancy could not understand me. Their idea of their own infancy implied self-involvement, although my idea of infantry meant that I was being told what to do. To be able to progress from where I was, I had to be able to discover my own drives and propensities so that only much later I might find a way to become involved with them.
I would suggest, “I’m doing things because I have my marching orders!” But others would respond: “That is self-involvement and narcissism, because you care what others think!”
They didn’t care that they were adding to the burden already placed on me: I had to appease the dominant culture by showing that I didn’t care what others thought now, although this new requirement came across as callous and as an order to eschew any existing insight. “Just be on your way and don’t care what others think!” I’d never in my life heard anything as extreme, but that was what was demanded.
These were some of the difficulties I encountered in trying to grow up out of the infantry stage.