“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Based on Hannah Witton`s video, I decided to make my own video about identity.
Identity, for me, is one of those things I don`t generally consciously struggle with. I`m just me, and I don`t really know how to be anything else. I mean, I realised I`m pansexual simply because I had already decided I don`t care much for gender, and then found out there`s a word for that. Awesome.
I have had times where I really did struggle with my identity though.
I do mention in this video that sometimes people change for the good, and sometimes they don`t (and that`s okay, as long as you learn from it).This is actually from personal experience: I have been in a very rough patch where I was not a pleasant person to be around, and I heard afterwards that some of my friends were, in fact, scared of me.
I know now that at the time I was going through Reverse Culture Shock, on top of some other problems. I had just returned from Japan, where I`d had an amazing time. I`d changed, I`d travelled on my own, lived in a different culture for 5 months, just to come back to find everything here exactly the same.
It wasn`t until at least two years later that I realised, upon looking back, that it was reverse culture shock that I was going through. I should have realised myself, but it can be very difficult to notice these things about yourself. I still do blame my environment for not noticing and helping me. At the very least my teachers, who have had experience with sending off their students several times a year for at least twelve years, should have noticed something was up and should have intervened.
On top of that, I had no place of my own, instead staying at a friend`s place during schooldays and going back to my parents` for the weekends. The two of us also had to do a lot of school projects together, with no one else in our assignment groups. Suffice to say that put a lot of pressure on our friendship.
Because I went to Japan earlier than planned school-schedule wise, I had to catch up on subjects from the second year of uni while in my third year.
By the time I finally found a place of my own, that friendship was in ruins, I was scaring off other friends with huge mood swings and tantrums, I was overworked, barely sleeping, and I in fact mostly have vague memories and glimpses of that time.
I slowly changed again. Partially thanks to having arguments all the time – and seeing how people shied away from confronting me – and partially thanks to paying attention to every single thing I did (which is, I should add, absolutely exhausting), I all but forced myself to change.
I did get some good things out of this situation, which is why I say in the video that it`s okay to become a bad person, as long as you learn from it: I learned something about myself, and about the people at my study. I learned who my friends are, and now have a small circle of friends around me that have either stuck with me through that period or I made afterwards.
I`m not perfectly friendly and pleasant to be around now – I`m not so certain that day will ever come at all. I can still be cruel and bitchy, I still have a temper, and can still explode. I am, however, somewhat more aware of these traits and where they came from (they`re inherent to my family, too). I am now in a constant state of self-improvement, and I expect this to take the rest of my life.
Perfection, after all, isn`t the goal here: improvement compared to where I came from is. And that`s a goal I can reset all the time.
“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”