This is interesting as identity defines who we are as a person but what it shouldn’t do is stereotype us into a box. If someone has short hair it does not mean that they should automatically be stereotyped as a boy. If someone wears a pair of those pineapple shaped sunglasses it does not mean they are weird. If someone wears a kilt and dreadlocks in their hair it does not mean they are a girl for wearing a skirt. These are people’s identities and they have chosen these types of dress and styles as it makes them happy.

As I have said in a previous post, I like nothing more than running around in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Now this style is very tomboy and I think my mother would be the first to agree with me. I wore skirts for school but outside of that my mother had me in a skirt up until three years old and then never again as I refused to wear them. Skirts and dresses are not who I am. Whereas Rosie will wear a dress to a wedding, to a party, out to the theatre and so on. That is part of her identity.

Uniforms

Some of us work in a place where a uniform is provided and some of us work in a place where we must select what we wear. I would admit that a uniform makes life easier at six o’clock in the morning when you are getting up and ready for work. But other than that, it has been selected for us to wear by the boss of the company. We do not usually get a say in how a uniform should look. It can take our identity and put it into a different person temporarily while we are at work and other times it does not. In the evening we put on our own clothes and go back to our normal identity. Sometimes though we spend our whole lives in a uniform and we may forget where the uniform starts and the person begins. Rosie experienced this after she finished being a police officer.  Rosie was moulded into a particular model which when she left the force she had a hard time adapting to civilian life. She let her hair grow, got some new piercings, is debating another tattoo and is enjoying wearing shorts to work.

Styles

Identity can be many different elements. It can be clothes, hair style, make up, shoes or eye colour. But it can also be how we identify as a person. It can be what we believe in, are we religious, what sports team do we like, what social life do we like, what class do we belong to and so on. You could start being called Helen from birth but then during university and work people start calling you H and it sticks. It can be your age or your marital status. It can be absolutely anything.

Don’t listen

Do exactly that. If someone is berating you from being different then don’t listen. It is highly likely that they want to be more like you and don’t know how to be, or that you are showing them a way of life that they can’t quite match up to. There are many different identities in the world these days and I am sure there are many more to come. But this is the cool part. We are all different for different reasons and we interact with different people at different times in our lives. I find it keeps the world interesting and if there is respect present then you are on to a winner.

Lost identity

Simple answer to this, find it. Explore different ways of living. If Rosie had her way she would go and live in a forest in a treehouse. Get yourself a new haircut, get your ear pierced, try on a different shade of lipstick, try on a different shirt, learn a new language, experience a different culture and so on. The only person who is going to stop you from doing this will be you. I say go for it. At the end of the day it is your happiness as a person which is more important.

Identity and mental health

It doesn’t define you as a person. I have Functional Movement Disorder and it is a part of my life but that doesn’t mean it identifies me as a person. Just the same as I have short hair and a piercing. Those do identify me as a person. It was my decision to make these changes, so I did.

As I like to say you are unlikely to say to someone: “Hello, my name is Helen and I have Functional Movement Disorder”. It may come up in a conversation, but I tend not to open with it.

The bottom line

We are all different and that’s what makes the world more interesting. Respect it, explore it and just be you.

-Helen

[#identity #style #happiness #clothes #lochlomond]

Carefree identity in Loch Lomond
Helen standing with rolled up trousers in Loch Lomond, her carefree personality shining through.