I don't think we ever discover who we are.
Identity is a never-ending book that continues to write new chapters as we experience life, and your story only ends when the pen is set down. When your story reaches a close, only you can describe everything. But there's no one word to sum up the life you lived and who you were. Others can title your story as they please and leave reviews, but you wrote every word of your story. So, on that last page, who do you think you'll be in your story? Did you become this person, or did you let this character you wanted to be, define where the story was headed?
You'll probably never find out, and the book you wrote is slid onto a shelf to collect dust with others.
Maybe the book you write is more important than others, and readers will continue to grab it off the shelf.
They'll form their ideas of your identity from the life you led, but only you knew who you were.
So, who am I? Well, I'll never know. But when I was younger, I did try to find out.
* * *
That's what the teenager was told by his closest friends.
Two words that weighed his shoulders down and lingered around his mind all day. Words that he wanted to forget. But trying to forget these words just made him remember. He couldn't forget them because they held some truth.
He was boring.
Antisocial, awkward and quiet.
These qualities had deemed him boring by others.
So that's who he was, but he didn't want to be.
He wanted to be fun like his friends.
So, this teenager began to talk more, and talking led to discovering more friends. Which opened the door to countless experiences.
He attended his first party and tried alcohol. It was agonizing attempting to fit in a new crowd. They talked about things that didn't interest him, but he still made an attempt to look cool around them.
"You're a virgin?" They laughed in his face.
A heavy weight settled in his chest as their laughter echoed in the air, each chuckle feeling like a sharp jab. The room seemed to close in, and he struggled to breathe, the walls of conformity pressing against him
Sex is cool, but he had never tried it. So, he started to look for the opportunity to try it. He did try it. With a stranger he didn't share a connection with, and he didn't enjoy it.
So, he tried again.
That's what the teenager was told by his teachers.
Weird, boring, and quiet.
But he wanted to be normal.
He wanted to be seen as normal. He couldn't.
He started to talk like others around him and gave up the things he enjoyed. Nobody his age needed to read for fun or enjoy learning. So he picked up other hobbies like sports.
He sucked at sports.
It's something he told himself because his crush couldn't see him. He was invisible to everyone, including the person he loved. They were perfect to him, so he valued them more than himself.
He wanted to be noticed.
He made an effort to dress better and stressed over the blemishes on his face. Skincare became his next obsession. But no cleanser, toner, or cream made him less ugly.
Boring, weird, and ugly.
That is who he thought he was.
The judgment of others started to control his identity.
Paranoia was a ghost that haunted him, pointing out every mistake and whisper made about him. He had to fix those mistakes. But he couldn't fix them all and that started to drive him insane.
He was reaching for validation and acceptance.
He wanted to be a reflection of others around him. He wanted to be the same as his friends, his teachers, and his family.
He was exhausted.
He wanted to be himself, but he wasn't sure who that was anymore.
Was he just weird, ugly, and boring?
He began to realize that he didn't want to be like others around him. He tried the things that were labeled fun, and they were boring. He was ready to be weird if that meant he didn't have to step out of his comfort zone to impress others.
And yes, he was ugly, he will probably write he is ugly all his life.
Until he meets someone he loves, and they call him beautiful.