When my parents were moving out of my childhood home last year, I went down for a few weekends to help them clean, as well as take apart my old room. Posters and important papers I had kept were tacked on my wall amid all the lettering and painting I had done as a child (much to my parents chagrin). If you’ve ever been in my room, one thing you will find along every wall in various forms of sharpie and paint, was my name. “Kelly” or “Kelly was here” labeled my closet, the trimming of my windows, the areas behind my desk and dresser. I was tucked in almost every corner of that room.
As I found all these declarations I started to wonder why I felt the need to write such a phrase over and over. I remembered the emotions behind wanting to put my name on everything I touched, but not the reasoning. I mused this out loud to my mother and her answer startled me. “You were trying to find your identity.” she said.
This, in a sense, blew my mind. It didn’t occur to me that writing my name over and over in different mediums and styles could be a symptom of my mind trying to work out who I was. Considering all the coming-of-age movies and books I had read, I thought, or at least assumed, that discovering what you’re all about as a person would come after some weird hardship or a super crazy house party. It didn’t come from the loneliness of a small, quiet room.
Even as I write this, I don’t think I have my identity pinned down, at least enough to talk about it in a blog post. And I certainly don’t have any film-worthy stories about discovering my identity and hopes and dreams and desires in high school while also getting the girl. But I can pinpoint a few times in my life where I realized what I believed and what I felt I stood for and all those instances combined have slowly helped me figure out me.
One instance I remember in particular was when I realized I belonged in Hufflepuff house. This was back when I was a sophomore in high school (about 8 years ago) before Pottermore, when sorting was something you and your friends did at lunch or at sleepovers. I knew a lot of people who put themselves in Gryffindor because it’s Harry’s house or it’s seemingly the best, but that reasoning didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to belong to a house, to feel like I had found my people. One day before band practice, I was listening to a Wizard Rock song about Hufflepuffs and it suddenly dawned on me that everything Hufflepuff house stood for, was what I stood for. Hard work, loyalty, trust, friendship – this was what I wanted people to think of when they thought of me. And so many people underestimated them, that I felt a kinship immediately and wanted people to know it. That was a moment where something in me clicked and it instantly felt right (and continues to feel right).
Another moment of identity crisis was during my senior year of college. My friends and I were hanging out and had heard about a test called The Five Languages of Love. The test basically tells you how you communicate love to others and how you best like love to be communicated to you. I never really considered myself a touchy-feely person, but my results stated that the way I communicate love the most is by touch. And almost immediately, I realized how true that was and is. I began noticing that during conversations when I agreed with someone or felt connected to them, I would reach out and touch them. I also realized what separated my acquaintances from my actual friends was how comfortable I felt touching them or they felt touching me. Of course not all my friends are touchy-feely people, but it helped to know that my primary form of communication was physical. It was a revelation to realize how my actions were an extension of who I was and am as a person.
I could on, especially about the numerous Buzzfeed quizzes I have taken over the years that have helped to define me as a person, but I think the real point here is that our identity is not something that is cast from birth and made to be still and permanent. We are not marble nor glass. We are clay, molded by ourselves and those around us. We are flexible and pliable and we can make weird shapes with ourselves. Perhaps my endless quest to discover who I am is just a reflection of my self-obsessed nature. But outside influence can be harmful if not properly filtered. And the more I know me, the more I become me. And that’s all that really matters.