I feel like I’ve been everything – a homebody, a (wannabe) raver, a hippie, an emo, a Debbie Downer, Miss Positivity…the list goes on. And this sh*t started early.
When I was in 6th grade, some emo chick on my school bus asked me, ‘how can you be wearing Hot Topic yesterday and Hollister today?’ While I don’t think the comment was meant to be offensive, my enlightened response today would be something along the lines of, ‘I, uh, changed.’ At the time though, I just shrugged, not really having or knowing the answer other than yesterday I felt like wearing a Jack Skellington t-shirt with fingerless gloves, and today I was feeling this babydoll top layered over a lace cami.
Identity is a tricky one. Some of us know our crowd early on, fostering an identity that fits into an existing mould, thus giving way to a sense of community and belonging. Jocks hang out with jocks. Skater dudes hang out with skater dudes. Bitches hang out with bitches. Christians hang out with Christians. In turn, this results in confidence by knowing who you are, what you do and don’t like, with whom you would and wouldn’t socialise. Feeling assured in such factors confirms one’s sense of self. Those of us who know ourselves and our ‘mould’ are less likely to second-guess our identities. ‘Who am I?’ or ‘is this me?’ or ‘do I like this?’ are not likely to be regular reflections. In knowing and being comfortable with oneself, there’s not much reason to ask these sorts of questions.
I used to view indecision as abnormal. I was too conforming to be a punk, yet too non-conforming – and nauseated at the thought of being – a prep. My music tastes included modern indie and R&B stuff, 90s emo, classic rock (‘classic’ at the time being 60s & 70s), and 80s dance music. Some days I dressed on trend, other days I was bohemian or tomboyish. I might do a full face of makeup, or I might not even run a brush through my hair. Not vibing with most people in my school, I thought inconsistency was to blame – I didn’t fit anywhere. I had eclectic tastes, and therefore I wasn’t deserving to fit anywhere. Who would want to hang out with someone who makes, like, no sense?
Guess what, homies? Plenty of people! And by plenty I really mean only a handful, but let me tell you, that handful is comprised of a few gems. It really is quality over quantity.
When I think of inconsistency regarding my adolescent identity, what I can now identify is a fear of confinement. I was afraid to ascribe any labels to myself, because labels can be, well, limiting. I’d rather be my weird self in pursuit of several odd interests than sticking with a uniform way of socialisation, identity, and interests. I’m Stephanie! Sardonically upbeat, conformer with a rebellious streak, stupidly predictable and yet full of surprises. Nowadays, I’m cool with that.
As it turns out, that whole ‘knowing and being comfortable with oneself’ thing I mentioned earlier is totally achievable for those with eclectic tastes. Not always knowing what you like, and using that as the rationale for continuous exploration, can be just as comfortable as predictably knowing what you like. There is beauty in being open to new experiences and having varied tastes that don’t necessarily make ‘sense.’ And who knows – the hipster chick might blast pop music in her car, and the nerd might love reality TV. We are all capable of variety.