Identity and Style

“But if you’d just take off your mask you’d find out everything’s gone wrong…”

My handmade Catacomb Saint mask for Halloween 2020

Identity is a strange thing. It’s something we spend our whole lives crafting, and yet very few people seem to recognize it as the art it is. Each act we perform further refines who we are, each conversation is an exercise in being, and this comes with immense responsibility to one’s self. And often it’s a responsibility we shirk, preferring prescribed identities assigned to us by others than crafting them for ourselves. It’s much easier to be the Kind of Person Who Buys this brand of clothing or the Kind of Person Who Plays this game, to align yourself with an interest or occupation. Those are the loudest voices, and it’s easy to allow them to drown out the call of your own subconscious.

I’ve always been fascinated with the way identity is shaped. For so much of my life, my identity was shaped by decisions I made almost arbitrarily: I was my hair colour, my style of clothing, my collections, my relationships. I was The Girl Who, and I fell in love with adjectives in place of myself. Sitting quietly with myself, allowing myself to explore my thoughts and values, to tune out the noise that competes with my own subconscious voice was the best decision I made in the process of crafting my identity: once you let go of prescriptions and assignments, you are free to follow your own path of discovery and shape your own personhood. And as I approach another year of being, I can say that I know myself better than ever, appreciate myself more than I thought possible, and no longer struggle with authentic expression or confidence. I know who I am at any given point, whether I’m in a room full of strangers, surrounded by friends, or totally alone with myself. And this is something that fills me with gratitude each and every day.

Where are you along the path to individuation? How many identities have you tried on along the way?

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