We’re lucky enough to be living in a time where having a uniquely personal identity is not only celebrated, but actively encouraged. From more integral aspects, such as gender and sexuality, to the more minor embellishments of diet, hair colour, hair style, fashion, which series you’re binging on Netflix – now more than ever there are so many ways to express yourself and live life to the best of your ‘you’ potential.
Maybe it’s the growth of social media, through which we’re exposed to backgrounds and lifestyles different from our own, that we should be holding accountable for this attitude towards identity. I can certainly vouch for this – my year group at high school, bar I think three people, was exclusively white; I was bullied and made to feel inferior for my ‘emo’ music taste and questionable fashion sense (though appalling it may have been, it probably wasn’t worthy of the casual death threats I received on more than one occasion.) It’s not that liking My Chemical Romance was an ostracisable offence, it just didn’t happen. If you’re gonna tease someone, it might as well be someone different to you, right? I’m really impressed with how far we’ve come in terms of embracing change and diversity in the 10 years since I was at school.
Since being exposed to reams of different backgrounds and personalities, I’ve turned my attention inwards to explore my own identity. There’s lots of aspects of my identity which are fluid, stamped with a big red question mark, but that’s fine. I’m happy to let aspects of myself fluctuate and differ as I meet new people and am introduced to more of the world around me. All part of self-improvement, right?
My latest hang-up, in regards to my own sense of self, is my almost entire lack of hobbies and interests, in the traditional sense. Sure, I find ways to fill my time – I’m an avid reader, I keep up this blog, I go on trips and holidays because I love seeing new places – but I can’t play an instrument (the recorder doesn’t count), have never been part of a sports team and not once have I starred in a play, panto or anything remotely similar. I used to have swimming lessons, was briefly enrolled in lifeguard training and attended Girls’ Brigade for about six years, but that was the extent of my extra-curricular childhood. I outgrew GB and once you’ve collected every badge in swimming there’s not a lot you can do (unless you compete, but I’m not streamlined – or in any way graceful – enough to be a fast or powerful swimmer.)
So, at the age of 22, I’m starting over. I’m determined to forge myself an enriched, interesting identity, and find myself some ways to occupy my time that don’t exclusively revolve around scrolling through Instagram. My first pursuit is picking the ukulele back up and seeing what happens!
It’s always the right time to remould and experiment with your identity. Don’t feel restricted by how others have seen or known you – if you need a bit of inspiration, get yourself onto Twitter or Instagram and see for yourself how vast and great the possibilities are!