By: Engy Mohamed
Growing up, I've always had this pressing question weighing down on the back of my shoulders as I blew my candles every year, and as I went back and forth between different groups of friends, each with their own interests and lifestyles, I kept wondering if I was where I truly belonged.
As a child, I would always dream of having my life completely figured out by the time I am twenty, but not in the get-married-settle-down aspect of things, instead I wanted to achieve some sort of transparency between myself and others, and more importantly find it in me to be honest with myself.
I wanted to be the kind of person who knew exactly what they wanted, to have clear-cut goals and a defined but unique persona that other people could look up to and wish to imitate.
I realized I had a problem when I tried to “be myself” but failed because I didn't know how. I experimented with a variety of personalities, listened to different genres of music, watched more movies, and made new friends.
I tried to use other people as a mirror for myself, and strove to know if there was something they saw that I couldn't.
But maybe I was too close to myself to see the bigger picture. I mean, did I know myself too well that I reached this point where I no longer knew anything at all? Did I delve too deep into my innermost self that I became dangerously self-aware?
Then again, none of that mattered because the damage was done.
Somewhere down the line, I managed to convince myself that I was the only one facing this issue, and that everyone who appeared to have their lives so put together actually did, which is why it came as a shock to me when I learned that one of my close friends was going through a very similar identity crisis.
“I think everyone suffers with identity issues, some just hide it better than others,” she expressed.
Her words made me wonder if I had been living in my own little metaphorical bubble of confusion for far too long to notice that my dilemma was just a part of growing up.
That there is no stone-engraved rule dictating that one must have a defined personality with unchanging traits in order to be a productive member of an active society.
So I forced my vigorously overthinking mind to take a halt and see how different of an individual I’ve become ever since I was an enthusiastic thirteen-year-old who could not wait to grow up. I noticed how my taste in music has changed, my food preferences have altered, and the people I interact with have differed.
Yet somehow we have created this unspoken dictum that forces people to label themselves and belong to something to avoid being left out; be it a certain political party, culture, or social group that you exclusively associate yourself with.
But how can you do that when there is so much to explore in this world?
This all made me understand that maybe change doesn’t always necessarily come from within, but rather from the things and people we surround ourselves with.
That a dynamic world creates a dynamic individual, and it’s okay for an individual not to keep up.
So with that knowledge in mind, I make peace with the fact that I may never be able to abide by mainstream social constructs, and accept the reality that my personality is and continues to be influenced by all the situations I come across as I make my way through life.
Finally, just remember that even those who appear to have a clear perception of who they are as people only pretend they know what they’re doing just to get by… and it works.