Have a glance into my wardrobe and you will be transported into a confused, bewildering mass of multiple identities. A noughties Narnia, if you will. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was remnants of some chaotic charity shop splurge, a mad frantic grab and buy in hope of some future eBay success. But, nope, it’s just me: a chaotic cluster of all my coveted characters and all my idealised perceptions of who I ought to be. And apparently, I thought I ought to be a lot of things.
Primary school to high school is a big leap. You go from being the coolest kid in school, admired for your wide collection of Bratz dolls and superb scoobie making skills, to just another stupid year seven kid. Suddenly, you’re not a valued member of your close, tight-knit Catholic school, but an unidentifiable girl in clumpy Clarks shoes.
I’d turned up, day one, with my hair tied back, a bare face and all the enthusiasm a former primary school it-girl could muster. I wasn’t an obvious choice for ridicule but yet not worthy of recognition either. This was mortifying. It was like all these people hadn’t realised I’d recently thrown the coolest Pizza Hut party West Yorkshire had ever seen. Worse still, they didn’t seem to care. Suddenly, it dawned on me – nobody thought I was special; nobody thought I was interesting. I was just a little kid, and I needed to establish my identity – fast.
During that unremarkable first year, I became accustomed to the new established ‘expectations’ of me. Boys from schools I’d never heard of exchanged pornography under the tables, images far more graphic than I’d ever seen sneaking peaks at Footballers Wives. They gathered in factions at lunchtimes to discuss which girl had ‘done what’ and with whom. My old primary school friends, in battles for masculine respect, started discussing which year nine girl was the ‘fittest’ and desperately searching for a girlfriend to smooch. Unexpectedly, it now appeared my appearance mattered more than how much glitter I could manage to get in my hair. Suddenly, an exclusive Tammy wardrobe was out and being Topshop was in. I had to be ‘fit’ in, be fancied, because that was how to be cool at school, right?
So it began. I traded practicality for a super cool Jane Norman handbag. My shoes were switched to some grotesquely embellished river island shoes to match the girls in the years above and my skirt was hitched up to mere inches from my vagina. I misguidedly swarmed Boots in hope of perfection; what emerged was a face hidden behind a mask of dream matte mouse and lips so glossy it looked like I was constantly salivating. I looked like an absolute moron, not that anyone told me. If anything, my Bebo love proved that I was one ‘gawjus gal xo’. I swapped S Club 7 for ‘The Sound of Bassline’ on my Sony Erricson walkman, pretended to love McKenzie jackets and tracksuits bottoms and basically had absolutely no opinions whatsoever. I was a sheep, but it was working. It wasn’t long until I got my first boyfriend. And even though he dumped me for not giving him a kiss, those blissful two days only established that I was officially a ‘pretty girl’. Sheep success rate = 100%.
After a year of unspectacular existence, here began my little bubbling rebellion. I was well-liked, had friends with whom I could sit and discuss the banalities of year nine life with (Jenifer totally dissed me on Facebook, such a bitch!!1!1!), but still I remained discontent. I was so boring. So I sought inspiration the way young girls do: copied everything off of the internet. Hello: the wonder of MySpace.
Rather unsurprising, you are now entering my emo phase! Long live Hadouken! I pinned half of my hair to my forehead, got one alarmingly bleach blonde streak and dedicated my life to reblogging terribly depressing Tumblr posts. Luckily for my reputation, this little exploration lasted the least time. For one, I do not suit black eyeliner. Secondly, I literally had nothing to be ‘emo’ about; I lived on a cul-de-sac and had all the Sims expansion packs. Life was actually pretty great.
So last but not least cameth the self-important indie girl. A mix of bright red hair, a smug superiority complex and a stupid amount of loafers with no socks. Ah, how I miss this girl. She may have been a total melancholic arsehole, but my god, didn’t she think she was the shit. Whilst everyone actually enjoyed the remainder of their school existence, I preceded to do the cool thing: alienate everyone and listen to The Smiths. Morrissey just, like, totally gets it, you know? (Answer, I did not know, but it sounded cool and profound). I spent my days sneaking into gig venues, pleading for my parents to let me attend festivals and paying too much money on disgusting Vintage store clothes. All to impress a bunch of older, “cooler” indie knobheads. I actually had the time of my life, and this phase is probably the identity crisis that affected me the most. I’m still a music loving, hipster girl – but now less of a wannabe, and with much cooler hair.
Now, I guess I do not just have one set identity and I’ve given up on trying to substantiate just one. As humans we are fickle and constantly evolving. We are inconsistent and indefinable – I don’t believe we can be limited to one stereotype. I think growing up is finally wholly accepting that you cannot place yourself in one defined box. It is acknowledging that you are always in development, always discovering new aspects of identities and always varied. That’s what makes us as humans exciting. Growing up gives you the opportunity to ‘find yourself’.
Being a grown up is realising you don’t need to be found. I spent a lot of time and energy discovering myself yet I still can’t fully define who I am. For all my identity crises, the only thing I learnt is that I am fluid and ever-changing. Oh, and that I think Morrissey is actually a bit of a knob.