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An Assortment of Identities: An identity crisis at 20 years old

Illustration by Vitoria Mendes

I’ve told myself thus far that I am finding myself. ‘I should have taken a gap year to find myself’, ‘I’m just figuring out who I am’. Truth is, I think that is a narrative that will follow me through my life, and I have found peace with that.

Growing up, I was the quiet one. Coming from a family of 18 cousins on one side, I learned many things. I learned that it is in fact essential to book a restaurant when your family comes to stay, because people tend to look slightly baffled when you ask them for a table for 19 on a Saturday night. But I learned that I am comfortable observing, I am comfortable feeling like part of a group whilst not necessarily saying everything I think. I learned that I am not the loudest person in the room, and for a long time I shunned myself for feeling like an ‘introvert’, a dimmed flame compared to some of my friends and family members.

But then I went to school, and around my friends, I was the loudest girl around- I wanted to make people laugh, I was comfortable making bad jokes (this is not a statement of self-deprecation but definitely more a statement of truth). Why couldn’t I, therefore, do this in every social situation? Why wasn’t I always consistent in my manner- was there something wrong with me?

For many years I could not answer this question, but finally, I have understood a key player in the game that is the answer. We are not all one identity, we do not all have one set of personality traits that will carry us through life. This really struck home watching ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (raise your hand if you’re surprised I watched this- unsurprisingly

I reckon 99% of your hands are still well below your forehead...) I felt such a strong sense of disagreement in her travels around the world to find her one ‘word’ to describe her- I also was not a fan of how she ended up riding off into the sunset with a man, but alas, I digress...

One day, I feel comfortable being one way, one day I’m around a new set of people and I feel completely differently: I’m slightly more apprehensive, and I just want to enjoy the atmosphere. To anyone who has ever met me, let me reassure you that you have not met a completely different person to the person I was earlier that day. I’ll always be me deep down, I have the same values, morals, and beliefs, and if I’m truthful, I’m tired of trying to pigeonhole myself into one category- the ‘quiet’ girl, the ‘outgoing’ girl, heck- why can’t I be all or none, all on my terms?

So, I perhaps I leave you with an arbitrary piece of advice- stop looking for yourself. Because you are most ‘you’ in those moments when you are not looking; living, breathing and taking in life- focus on that instead. You are a multitude of emotions, a range of personalities, and that gives you the layers and depth people love about you. Some days I want to be messy and silly (no need to expand), and some days I want to be in bed by 10. But I am not defined by those choices. And funnily enough, neither are you.


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