when i was five, i received underwear as a birthday present, a gift from my then-best friend’s mom. she had assumed my family was so completely broke, unable to afford any clothing for me other than the only jeans she ever saw me in, worn out and tattered, covered with patches added weekly to cover the holes, and the two sweatshirts i wore interchangeably, for year’s on end.
it was an act of charity.
at twenty-five, i find bittersweet humor in that moment — five year-old me with straight bangs, wearing a lime green tee with the little mermaid embroidered onto it, eagerly shredding the pink wrapping paper to reveal a three-set of powderpuff girls underwear.
at five years-old, i was unaware and oblivious of how others perceived me. i didn’t give a shit what you thought about me — words like self-conscious and insecure didn’t resonate. i was just happy to exist in my own brain space, a place where i played pretend and based my identity around whichever character i fixated on.
i was obsessed with disney’s a bug’s life, a phase in my childhood where my entire life was dictated by the film — my mother fondly recalls me rejecting my real name to my kindergarten teacher and insisting on going by the name of flik. donning either the forest green crewneck with a graphic of flik’s face or the pink fleece with an embroidering of atta, i embodied my infatuation.
so maybe things haven’t changed that much since i was a kid — sure, my world doesn’t revolve around a bug’s life anymore but old habits die hard and sometimes, the only thing that keeps me from forgetting the past is resisting the change that evolves over time.
time-and-time again, i still find myself refusing to try anything new. theres a comfort that comes with consistency, the word “change” forbidden and overwhelming for all the unknowns it can bring. its fear of the unknown, really.
girl who orders the same dishes each and every time we dine out (if girl even eats – thanks, adderall); girl who cant admit to herself that her current living situation with three (previously, four) roommates cant last forever because she cant stand the idea of being alone; girl whos kept the unbrushed and messy ombre hair for years just because one of her infatuations said he loved it.
i lopped off my hair in september 2020, and it was a change that terrified me. its the letting go, the tidal wave of emotions, the new starts and the endings – truly, the end of an era. a time for new beginnings and moving on from my past self, my identity.
so maybe thats what it comes down to – loss of identity. can you even lose your identity if you dont know who the fuck you are?
sometimes, im certain of who i am – a mid-grade hoarder, who cant stand the thought of my belongings being (feeling) lost or seeing food tossed from the fridge even if i dont really eat; loud typer at work with my headset volume turned to 100 to block out the noise, both in my head and in the outside world; lover of youngboy and someone whos mood is determined for the rest of the day by a song; a girl with heightened emotions and the occasional outbursts and a great fear of rejection or being disliked.
the occasional people pleaser, but also someone whos not afraid to cuss you out and threaten you with her plastic “brass knuckles” cat keychain when crossed or spoken to in the wrong way. and i know i anger people too. i do it on purpose, poking the bear and being a pain in the ass (for fun).
for someone who wants people to like her, i sure have a way of pushing peoples buttons and burning bridges, caution tape wrapped around dead friendships because i always leave first (before i am left). i make plans i never intended on keeping in the first place, i cancel last minute and i dont reply for weeks (or maybe ever).
most days, i have no fucking idea who i am, what my purpose in this lifetime is other than to play karma and be the vengeance that other people deserve (and asked for).
i dont know who the fuck i am. but i have short hair now, permed silky smooth, a 180 to how my hair was previously, a cleanse of my past. and i wish cutting my hair (the thing i dreaded the most as a kid), suddenly gave me a better understanding of who i am and why im here.
and maybe im still learning to let go, traumas hidden in the shadows as i continue to run from them, the lessons learned never truly sinking in. maybe ill never be ready to let go, because moving on from the past traumas threaten my fragile identity as it stands.
so maybe thats who i am – girl afraid of the future, but also afraid of the past, just passing the days by lying to herself (and others) while simmering internally with anger.