Speak to someone who knows you for at least 5 years. How do they ‘identify’ you? Your thoughts?
Upon asking my mother about how she would identify me as a person, she said that I am sensitive and introverted when meeting people whom I not close with. I don’t really disagree as I am indeed a very much a person who is often caught up is my own thoughts hence my slightly introverted character which is sometimes even seen by others as anti-social.
You would think that being seventeen this year and halfway through or even close to the end of my adolescent years, I would know myself inside out but honestly, the word “identity” still seems very foreign to me. Identity to me always seemed like a very personal and truthful thing to me because only you understand yourself best, and only you can truthfully identify the emotions you feel and experiences you go through.
I feel like identity and labels often are linked together in a sense that identity is the way we want to be seen and see ourselves while labels are how others see us and want to see us.
For example, today I may feel like wearing heavy make-up and dressing head to toe in black today and people who don’t really know me or don’t know me at all may all of a sudden label me as a “Goth” and expect me to act in a certain way. Goth is defined as “music in a style of guitar-based rock with some similarities to heavy metal and punk and usually characterised by depressing or mournful lyrics” and “fashion characterised by black clothes and heavy make-up, often creating a ghostly appearance.” People may even identify me as a very gloomy and depressed person because of what I was wearing.
Once, I read an online article (link to the article) written by a Muslim girl residing in America about how her religion was often offensively joked about because her classmates connected Islam to terrorists. I can only imagine how offended she must have felt. This is why I feel like identities and labels are two very different things yet are always linked together. Because of her religion, she is labelled as a terrorist. Cashiers in stores looked at her with disapproval because of her race and religion. All the disrespect towards her religion, race and culture honestly makes me quite furious and disappointed. Islam does not equate to ISIS! I sincerely hope that one day people will stop stereotyping and value her race, religion and culture because it is a part of her identity, as the Singapore pledge says “pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion.”
After all, I feel like everyone would want to be valued and respected just for existing. I feel like everyone has many layers to their identity and we have our whole lives to explore these different versions of ourselves and our backgrounds. My identity is my culture, race and religion and my existence itself, I don’t want to be labelled because of what I clothes and they way I act because these labels are what people assume me to be. I constantly remind myself that I can only be the best me and people can only be the best them thus I need empathise more. Also, I feel that its important that we remain unapologetic about our emotions, beliefs, appearance, culture etc, because it defines us, it is part of our identity and it’s the truth that we owe to ourselves.
Here are some links to articles that I’ve read about celebrating and accepting people off all identities – race, religion and culture:
Black Beauty Redux – Rookie Mag : This article talks about beauty standards that preferred whiteness over blackness and how social media hashtags such as #blackoutday, #unconventionalblackbeauty and #flexinmycomplexion celebrates black beauty.
“I dream of ways to tell my classmates that Islamophobia is not OK” : This post is written by a Muslim girl and you can read how she is bullied by her classmates because of her religion and basically see things in her perspective ad empathise with her feelings.
(pictures belongs to rightful owner, no copyright infringement intended)
Reflection by: Jaey Sim