There are many sides to my personality. This is hardly shocking news. We all do. Most of us adapt and the mirror the people around us so that we ‘fit in’. We pick the parts of our personalities that work best for the occasion and we showcase it.
The thing is by spending a lot of time around the same people, you pick up some of their habits (both good and bad) until facets of their personalities becomes yours. This particularly happens when you’re young and impressionable.
So how do you distinguish between what is inherently ‘you’ and what you’ve picked up from others?
As a child, I was an academic, bossy, tomboy-ish kind of girl. I liked to play with cars, not dolls. Instead of running away from spiders and ants, I picked them up and let them walk up and down my arms (it’s ticklish). I played in the mud. My knees were always scraped. Up till this point, the biggest influences in moulding my personality were my parents and they definitely didn’t raise me to be soft.
Then I joined secondary school. My closest friends were all girls and girly-girls at that. They were very concerned about their appearance. They wore fancy bras, shaved their legs and had perfectly manicured nails. They were thin and always calling themselves fat. And then there was me. I’d be the one telling them to hurry up in the loos when I thought we’d be late for a lesson. I had a big rucksack for my books so that it wouldn’t hurt my back. I was the chubby one with who always wore a ponytail to school. I thought they were silly but they were my friends and slowly they rubbed off on me. I found myself adapting. One of the biggest changes was in my weight (which I lost by prancing about in my room- who needs a gym?). I let my hair down (literally) and got it feathered and layered. I started wearing eye-pencil and wearing better clothes. While these all sound like good things- after all, we should take care of ourselves- I also picked up vanity, gossiping and a need to compare myself to other girls. I’m not saying they weren’t already there but they were certainly enhanced by my high school experience.
Then I entered Sixth Form (college to those who aren’t familiar with the UK System) and everything altered again. I changed my circle of friends because I decided I couldn’t hack it as a girly-girl and my new crowd was mixed, half boys, half girls and with this change, came new habits. This included swearing (which I was highly against up till then), an appreciation for all things crude, listening to dutty songs and a capacity for ‘that’s what she said’ jokes. They don’t sound like appealing things but I credit them for making me loosen up and broadening my sense of humour. People look at me and see a short asian girl who’s good at school and sort of assume I’m some innocent. I’m not. Make a crude comment, I’ll be the first to laugh. Say something rude, I’ll one up you. I enjoy ruining their misconceptions of me.
Then I came to university and I realised all the crudeness and badman-ness that had served me so well in Sixth Form really didn’t work here. Being at this world class institution (stop sniggering my fellow Imperial people) has encouraged me to clean up my act. I speak better. I am polite. I engage in pleasantries but the whole time I am aware that I’m censoring my speech. I adapted so well in Sixth Form, I now have an alarm that goes off every time someone says ‘that was hard’ or ‘that was long’ because it’s the prefect time to bust out ‘that’s what she said’. Heck this is post number 69 and even that made me snigger.
In the next stage of my life, post university, my wish is to stamp out some of my crudeness and become a sophisticated, classy, young woman all the time and not just when I’m supposed to be. Oh and learn how to be graceful. Whether or not this is possible I have yet to determine.
The original question I asked was essentially ‘how do you know who you are?’. After this life story of sorts, my conclusion is that you don’t, because who you are is highly dependent on who you’re with.
You would be better off asking ‘who can you be?’.
Over and Out.
P.S This was not the post I had planned (sorry James) but once I got started, this is what came out.