It’s an interesting notion, isn’t it? I was curious as to how a dictionary described it so I did a bit of a search. Thank-you World Wide Web. Dictionary.com describes identity as ‘the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another’; pretty straight forward hey? I even looked up on UrbanDictionary and their definition of identity is ‘something that describes an individual entity by its properties. Humans can identify themselves with a birth name’. The example they gave is ‘my mother named me Mistake, now I have an identity’. Pretty funny.
Lastly, but not least, my very expensive psychology textbook refers to identity as ‘a stable sense of who one is and what one’s values and ideals are’. PsychBook offers more insight saying that some people establish their identity after soul-searching whereas others can commit without exploration. There is another option, one that I feel is currently happening in my life; being perpetually confused. Turns out I may try on various roles throughout my twenties. So lets take a look at what is happening in my life.
Struggling with who I am – Big Tick
Can’t decide what to do with my degree next year – Big Tick
Don’t know where to live – Big Tick
Experiencing emotional unrest – Big Tick
Feeling mighty confused about the majority of things in my life – Massive Tick
Although I may take a step back and breathe, it only gets slightly easier knowing what is happening in my life, and establishing myself as an individual when I am overwhelmed. Far from stable. Currently my mind is a vortex. Anything and everything has been sucked in, like a powerful Dyson vacuum cleaner, and its all one big mess. So how do I deal with things? How do I cope day to day? These are the questions that plague me pretty much every second of everyday, along with the thousand other thoughts that run through my head. So lets tackle one thing at a time.
I can’t decide where to live. Brisbane or Melbourne. Each has their pros and cons. Currently I live in beautiful Melbourne. Soon I will live in the beautiful Peninsula. I am apprehensive yet excited. New things await me. Yet every time I go back home to mum and dads it is so beyond easy and recently I was 98% sure that moving back in with the parentals was a brilliant idea. With all the other things happening, it still does seem like a good idea. I hate Brisbane, yet it is easy to unpack my clothes and do my craft on the open decking with a cat underneath my feet. Okay, I still don’t have any idea. Moving on.
Not knowing what to do with my degree next year. Do I become a police officer straight away, do I get a job in corrections or in the courts, do I do further study? I have options, too many options. I am incredibly blessed that I have all these options but it makes it mighty confusing to decide what to do with my life. I want to do all these things I have suggested, so I guess I apply for jobs, wait and see what fate has in stall for me.
Now for the big ones. Emotional unrest. Identity struggle. Feeling confused. Let me be honest here (and this is scary revealing a part of me that is ugly) – I suffer from depression. It seems suffering from a mental illness is so much harder without an identity, without knowing who you are. Two years ago I would have known who I was. Outgoing, adventurous, brave, rude. I was kind and abrupt but loyal and loving. Proud, loud and hot-tempered. I did not think that I would be affected by a mental illness. But mental illness does not discriminate. It does not care about your plans or what colour hair you have. Depression came into my life like a burning hot coal. It sat in my mid section, travelling to my legs on the days I couldn’t get out of bed, other days travelling to my eyes when all I could do was cry. It ruined my appetite and my beliefs and it crushed my soul, shredding all that I knew about life and about myself.
Who am I now? I am someone who has survived an overdose, an attempted suicide. I am quieter, I am not so sure of myself or the world. I get scared and anxious about so many things.I am mean and bitchy. I am cranky and unkind. I am confused and I still cry. Yet I am still loyal and loving, I try to be kind and thoughtful. I try so hard. I am still somewhat loud and outgoing, just on a lower level. Despite the positive (?) traits, I manage to see the negative. I see the shell of the person I was. The decaying, rotten flesh that depression has left. The paranoia consumes me. Each day is a struggle to put one foot in front of the other. I do not know what the day will bring when I wake up. Lacking an identity makes it hard to be able to make decisions about the simple things, let alone the big life changing things.
I look at my sister and see a dancer, a bit of a bossy-boots and someone who loves to shop. My sister-in-law as a gluten intolerant, loud, somewhat hippie lady. My dad as cheeky, loving, sometimes a quiet man. So when I look at myself, how can I not see how I am? I have spent 21 years watching this child turn into a young lady, so why don’t I know who she is? I think she likes creating things (food and art), its possible her favourite colour is purple and that she is passionate about equality and honesty. I think she likes mangoes, cats and reading on the beach. I think she dislikes onions, spiders and having long fingernails. I think, but I can’t say for sure.
If you asked me for 100 points of identity I could provide you with my passport, birth certificate and medicare card. My nationality, hair colour, religious background and history are all part of my identity but they do not define me. I define me. Me, whoever I may be.
I guess now then that I am on this journey of self-discovery. I need to nourish mind, body and soul. Eating good food, exercising, meditation. Travel, reading books, discovering the world and me. It isn’t easy to know others better than I know myself, and the person I was two years ago is no longer me. Question is, how do I expect others to know me when I don’t even know myself. Hopefully soon enough we both will know.