My dad had curly hair, and by curly hair I mean an ethnic fro that could rival most. It should not have been a surprise then that when I popped out, tiny ringlets circled my head. My dad's afro and my mom's perm phase somehow did not prepare them for me and all that my head produced. looking back at my childhood pictures, I am convinced my parents didn't even try to tame the beast.
Needless to say, my awkward phase last a loooooong time, and it only went from bad to worse. My hair was poofy and frizzy and really just a hot mess. There was a long time where I would part my hair down the middle and slick it back into a tight bun that hung at the nape of my neck. Then I moved to Florida and between the humidity, puberty, and a friend directing me in how to do my hair, I began to figure it out. Soon enough my hair became a part of my identity for a few reasons.
First off, its pretty noticeable. I am a really small human, but when I put my hair up, I add about 6 inches to my height. Between that and my incessant hair flip, my husband can almost always spot me in a crowd. If people did not know my name, they would refer to me as "the girl with the curly hair." (Whoop! There it is!) In high school my best friend's mom knew and referred to me as that for the first part of our friendship, that is, until we thought it was fun to give each other tattoos in permanent marker, and then suddenly she learned my name.
Second off, apparently people with curly hair all look the same. In college one of my roommates had super curly hair and was also Irish, Native American, African American, and Hispanic. I am only one of those things, and still there were many occasions in which people would stop us and ask if we were twins. Our answers to that depended greatly on our mood.
I moved down to Florida the summer between my seventh and eight grade year, and like a respectful and understanding child, I threw a massive fit. For me, middle school was a pivotal time to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be, and I had zero idea. Add moving states and starting a new school on your 13th birthday (I really hated life that year) and a perfect storm for identity issues had begun.
Soon after I started school, people began to tell me who I was. I had some similar physical and behavioral characteristics to some of the people around me, so little by little my identity was handed to me; I didn't have to figure out who I was, people just told me. I wasn't mad, less work for me. I was also really good at becoming that person. I was sarcastic (some things never change) and strong. I avoided emotions at all cost and guarded myself and the people around me fiercely. I seemed independent and self-sufficient. When I talk about high school with some of my friends, the conversation usually starts with, "You really used to scare me when I first met you." I became what people said I was because that was safe for me. I honestly do not think I even realized how much of myself was not actually me until I went to college.
In college I was not known, and therefore I could be anyone I choose. Jesus slowly started to reveal to me who I actually was, which lead to all sorts of identity crisis. The first thing to go was my lack of emotions. I feel like I got payback for the years I subdued them, and they came out in a force. Due to a series of hurtful events, I learned very quickly how healing emotions are. They do not represent weakness but rather I found strength through them.
Fun fact about me, for years I would become who I was around. I guess parent's might know what they are talking about when they say to choose your friends carefully. It did not matter how strong I was, in a group of people I eventually took on different attributes that I saw attractive in them for myself. I think part of that was my lack of self confidence and desire to be wanted and liked.
I slowly but surely have been working to find who I am for myself. I started the sometimes painful process of figuring out who I was at the core. There were also little things I had to figure out. I remember one night, sitting on my dorm room floor freaking out that I did not know what my favorite color was (I also came to grips in that moment that I might be a tad dramatic). I found that it changes very often depending on the season and my mood. Today it is green, but just to prove a point, if you look in my About Me, my answer is different.
This is a work in progress for me. I am still figuring it out. For the first time probably ever, I am beginning to feel comfortable in my own skin and I think that a big part of that is that I am actually being myself inside it. I truly believe that each of us has a purpose here that cannot be done if I am too busy trying to stuff myself into someone else's mold. I will not and cannot accomplish it if I am busy being someone else. So here's to celebrating our differences and the great things I see in others without trying to take that on. You do you (insert fist pump here).