Identity

I cannot be unique if people do not know i am unique.
As long as I can recall I have been colorful, out there, full of confidence. I always have wanted to define and improve myself and be the best version there is possible to be.
Adding a touch (an unhealthy splash) of competitiveness to me means that not only must I be creative, I have to be the MOST creative. I have to express and know myself to the highest degree.
Over the past few years I have been customizing my body. I love the concept of personalizing your body, making it truly unique in the world. I have 4 tattoos, 8 piercings, and have played with coloring and styling my hair and adding jewelry and fun clothing.
Listen, I know that there is a point where selfies become vanity but I love the fact that we can document everything in our lives. I am trying to log my life through pictures on my phone. I adopted a cat and have been trying to log weekly updates of her life. She is now 24 weeks old and i cannot believe 24 weeks has passed.
I am fascinated with the concept of logging myself. Recording my existence. Having the most accurate count of myself.
The point of this is that I have recently changed jobs. My job for the past year and a half has allowed me complete freedom in hair and piercings. I have started getting my nails done and its been amazing because I do not have good nails.
But now I cannot have these things. I’m not allowed unnatural hair colors, nail covering or color of any kind, and no facial piercings. Thus I dyed my hair again. I went from bright purple to black and brown, which is the color I’ve had my entire life. And it hurts. I feel like by dying my hair I sacrificed my individuality and lost my ‘real’ identity. The concept I’ve been mulling over these few days is whether I am less unique or self-expressive if others do not know I am unique. The phrase is ‘express yourself’ but the question is to whom?
This also makes me think that if I lose an obvious degree, I must make up for it in some less visible way but one that has the same weight to it. By this I mean that I feel I can measure how well my self is expressed.
Converse shoes worn ironically. Hair dyed bright purple. Clever outfit. Tasteful piercings, but be sure you do not get any worn out or cliche ones. Jewelry. Bold makeup.
Is it all worth it if I know I will be better in the end? That of course must be decided by you. The pain point comes where the discomfort of doing or not doing something outweighs the value. The temporary pain I feel from not having colored hair or a ring in my lip does not outweigh the fact that I am able to pursue an education, which should take me to a point where I regain the things of which I am deprived. It is not the worst option. By going through with it, I gain.
How do you feel you are unique? What do you hold close and value as a definition of yourself? What would hurt to lose? What facets of yourself would make you feel as though you were not yourself if they left?
What are you willing to sacrifice? What do you hope to gain by doing so?

One comment

  1. Does uniqueness need to be expressed in order to be? If it is not immediately visible, does it cease to exist? Does beholding uniqueness somehow create it? Every single person, without exception, is unique. It is true that they all look similar on the outside – two eyes, one mouth, a neck, a body with appendages. They all generally walk and talk and breathe and eat. But beyond that, the variety is endlessly surprising. The uniqueness of an individual is found in their thoughts, in their emotions, in the relationships that they are surrounded by, in the environments in which they thrive and struggle, in their motivations, their habits and their loves.

    You are unique, Laura. And not because of how you chose to express your uniqueness yesterday — when you whinnied like a horse and galloped around the church. And not because of how you chose to express your uniqueness today – with hair and piercings and a cat. And not how you will choose to express it tomorrow. All of these are just raindrops overflowing from the pregnant cloud of uniqueness that is you. You are hopelessly, wonderfully unique. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these expressions of uniqueness are you. Nor do they make a better you. The better you is formed from attention to habits, deliberate cultivation of virtues – patience, kindness, self-control, discipline, perseverance. The better you – changing the actual content of those raindrops of uniqueness — changing the essence of your uniqueness– is created by paying attention to what you love. And then finding something even better to love. You become what you love. And that which you love shapes your uniqueness – changes the essence of the unique life contained in the body that you live in.

    Does changing a house make the person living in it more unique? Your body is the house you live in. But it isn’t the wellspring of your precious uniqueness. Putting different shutters on or painting the siding a different color doesn’t change the person who lives inside the house- they don’t become a better person. Having a degree or a different job or a different hair color won’t change you either. There is always a better you just around the corner – but that better you is created through changing the person inside the house. Making the unique Laura more beautiful, more generous, more good, more truthful, more just — that is the way to personalize yourself. The fruits of those raindrops change the world. Everybody recognizes and remembers clouds that rain down kindness and gentleness and sacrificial compassion. You are unique, Laura – you always have been and always will be. It is evident to everyone who interacts with you for even a short moment. But greater uniqueness is always possible – by changing the essence of the raindrops, by changing the person living inside the house.

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