What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do? What a waste, what a senseless waste! But what of those things which you actually didn't like, not because you were not supposed to like them, not because to dislike them was considered a mark of refinement and education - but because you actually found them distasteful? The very idea annoyed me. How could you know? It involved a problem of choice. I would have to weigh many things carefully before deciding and there would be some things that would cause quite a bit of trouble, simply because I had never formed a personal attitude toward so much. I had accepted the accepted attitudes and it had made life seem simple...
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APARalph Ellison Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=what-how-much-had-i-lost-by-trying-to-do-only-what-was-expected-me-instead-what-i-myself-had-wished-to-do-what-waste-what-senseless-waste-but-what-those-things-which-you-actually
ChicagoRalph Ellison Quotes. Jar of Quotes, 2020. https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=what-how-much-had-i-lost-by-trying-to-do-only-what-was-expected-me-instead-what-i-myself-had-wished-to-do-what-waste-what-senseless-waste-but-what-those-things-which-you-actually, accessed .
MLA"Ralph Ellison Quotes." Jar of Quotes, 2020. . https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=what-how-much-had-i-lost-by-trying-to-do-only-what-was-expected-me-instead-what-i-myself-had-wished-to-do-what-waste-what-senseless-waste-but-what-those-things-which-you-actually
Many of the rites of passage, those rituals of growing up found in our society, are in the form of such comic, practical joking affairs--which we ignore in the belief that they possess no deeper significance. Yet it is precisely in their being regarded as unimportant that they take on importance. For in them we ritualize and dramatize attitudes which contradict and often embarrass the sacred values which we proclaim through our solemn ceremonies and rituals of nationhood.
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America is woven of many strands; I would recognize them and let it so remain. It's 'winner take nothing' that is the great truth of our country or of any country. Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat. Our fate is to become one, and yet many - This in not prophecy, but description.
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The moment I entered the bright, buzzing lobby of Men's House I was overcome by a sense of alienation and hostility ... The lobby was the meeting place for various groups still caught up in the illusions that had just been boomeranged out of my head: college boys working to return to school down South; older advocates of racial progress with utopian schemes for building black business empires; preachers ordained by no authority except their own, without church or congregation, without bread or wine, body or blood; the community 'leaders' without followers; old men of sixty or more still caught up in post-Civil War dreams of freedom within segregation; the pathetic ones who possessed noting beyond their dreams of being gentlemen, who held small jobs or drew small pensions, and all pretending to be engaged in some vast, though obscure, enterprise, who affected the pseudo-courtly manners of certain southern congressmen and bowed and nodded as they passed like senile old roosters in a barnyard; they younger crowd for whom I now felt a contempt such as only a disillusioned dreamer feels for those still unaware that they dream-the business students from southern colleges, for whom business was a vague, abstract game with rules as obsolete as Noah's Ark but who yet were drunk on finance.
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It goes a long way back, some twenty years. All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!
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