The Identity Crisis by Scarf Face
I recently watched an old flick ‘Lying to be Perfect’. Basically, a magazine journalist writes this sassy, popular column where she passes herself off as a hot, fashionable, British woman called Belinda Apple. In reality, she was a middle-aged, plus sized American whose only link to England was a fake accent. This got me thinking about how we often find ourselves in the dilemma of answering the question, ’who are you?’ A good number of us do not actually have the answer, because we haven’t decided between who we are and who we want to be. It sounds ridiculous at first because who else should we be apart from ourselves right? Wrong! This is perhaps the most difficult, soul-baring question in the world and finding an answer is the challenge of a lifetime.
I think my first encounter with this issue was during my turbulent teenage years. For your information, it is absolutely normal for adolescents to be troublesome and confused as to what courses to take in senior year. We would also have you believe that it is normal to begin every sentence with ‘like’ and dye our hair blue. I transitioned twice between chopping my hair off and letting it grow; I wore tomboy shoes and tried to walk with a swagger, but ate daintily and smiled even when I was being impolite. And I couldn’t decide whether to be a science or art student, so I took Chemistry and Physics alongside Literature and French. Simply put, I was in the middle of a teen-life crisis.
Things probably got deeper in uni, where life starts over and you can pretty much redefine your existence. Everyone had a silver spoon; was too cool for school; and suffered from some sort of complex. There is nothing wrong with these, as long you’re being true to yourself. Because if the truth be told, not everybody can live in Lekki, stab classes and be in a clique. Keeping up with the Joneses by pretending to be who you’re not comes natural to some. Unfortunately, this is the defense mechanism formed by their minds to escape their discontent with reality.
My fellow people in faith are not above this problem though. You’re faced daily with situations which seem small, but go a long way in forming a part of the Muslim identity. Sister, that hot guy you’ve been crushing on for months (we’re human too) finally walks up to you to say hello. It feels like a national emergency deciding whether or not to shake his outstretched hand as seconds tick by. Brother, that big office presentation or visa interview tomorrow is the turning point in your life and you debate in front of the mirror for hours whether or not to chop off the beard in order to look less ‘threatening’.
To every person that has ever felt the Belinda conflict inside them; making them question their being or values –in essence, their identity- you’re not alone. Except I choose to be dishonest, I feel this tug of war everyday as I struggle through life. It’s overwhelming and sometimes, I almost give in to the temptation of my weakness. I do not regret the other times when I have embraced the false security of becoming who I’m not…no, it has simply made me stronger to resist next time.
Who am I? I’m a Muslim girl from Nigeria; a law graduate who doesn’t know her place yet in the corporate world. I’m the only girl in my family and I wish I had an older sibling because responsibility scares me. I worry that I’m growing up too quickly and life will disappear before I know it. My diet has been a work in progress for more than ten years and I still have to cope with love handles. I’m a hopeless romantic, but my SO seems to think I’m a “bush woman” in matters of the heart. I want to have five kids (and I know their names already) but I’m terrified of childbirth. Oh and my greatest wish is to die with the proclamation of faith on my lips.
Who are you?