If I was to ask any one of you the question “Who are you?” I suspect most would immediately tense up and experience the phenomenon of ‘going blank’. I was once asked that very question and although I was answering it through text, I felt under a certain amount of pressure to get it right. As if it was an exam question. Almost as if the person was going to turn around and say “No actually you’re wrong”. And therein lies the problem. Why did I feel so mistaken and tentative of the one question surely only I could know the answer to?
The society we live in today is so narrow-minded that anything that would be considered different is frowned upon. And I’m not suggesting that one specific group does all the dictating of what the ‘norm’ is, no. Hands high in the air, we all do it. If you wear dark clothes and have more than one facial piercing you’re an emo. If you wear hoop earrings and Adidas tracksuits you’re a chav. If you wear five-inch heels and half an outfit you're a slut. Okay perhaps the last one is understandable but look at the other two examples. I wear tracksuits AND listen to Black Veil Brides, so what does that make me? Apparently a “chemo”. Go figure.
It amazes me that in this day and age people are for some reason unable to express themselves in whatever manner they wish to. I mean, celebrities do it all the time. They wear ridiculous outfits and do ridiculous things, and just because of their status, it becomes fashionable or acceptable. Think of Lady Gaga, for example. People have simply embraced her whacky outfits because her name means something. If I was to go around wearing a meat dress I would be butchered, pun intended.
So can anyone actually tell me why we conform to society’s ‘rules’? Eventually, I believe we will all simply become one person. One frame of mind, one way of life; it will be the end of individuality. Evolution will morph all beings into one and create a sort of Herrenvolk, with society as our Hitler. In my opinion it’s already happening. People are lacking the confidence to break whatever clichéd stereotype they fit into. Plenty of people are well-able to boast of how they don’t care what people say or think of them, but when it comes to it they’re all just as insecure and self-conscious as the next. To be quite honest, I think there’s only one real way of determining who you are – process of elimination. At least that’s what worked for me.
I must’ve gone through almost every pigeonhole under the sun, failing each time to find a suitable ‘me’. I never felt comfortable behind all those masks that were never the right fit. In my case, all the chopping and changing of my personality and social appearance led to people questioning who I even was anymore. Should they have asked, I would have had no response. I was lost in this fantasy world that I had created. A world where I could become a new character every week and no-one would care because it was my story. Turns out life doesn’t work that way.
When I lost everything, I was stripped bare. I had nothing to hide behind anymore; no safety net to fall back on. All I was left with was me. That same person that had watched her own downfall as if she were an on-looker. I was left with two options. I could become invisible and let the world pass by without ever contributing to its existence. Or I could start from scratch and re-invent myself. Become the person I wish I had been from the start. So that’s exactly what I did. I made bold choices, I spoke my mind, and you know what? I actually began to gain a shred of respect for what I was doing. Even by writing this post I am breaking society’s rules. I’m not meant to have a voice louder than others; I shouldn’t be so comfortable with having my thoughts and feelings scrutinized by others. Where did this newfound audacity arise from?
Possibly when I realised that limitations and I did not sit very well together on this balance board of life. One of us was going to have to go, and you’ll never guess who it was. Yes, it was I. Being so restricted and knowing that one foot wrong could be disastrous was too much for me to handle. It was as if I was being slowly pushed along the plank of life towards an inevitable death, yet one trip-up and I would fall to an early grave, drowning in my own regrets and “what ifs”.
I still struggle to answer the question “Who are you?” but at least I have the bones of an answer now. I hope that one day people will realise that to be different is to have the strength of hundreds to do what each of them could only ever imagine doing – being themselves.