How to cope with an identity crisis

We’ve all felt that pang of existential dread where suddenly, all the things we do, say, wear and feel don’t make sense anymore. Nectarine Girl shares some wisdom on how to get over all of that.

Welcome to a weekly life and relationships column by Iris Owen, aka Nectarine Girl – the reigning queen of Depop, fame-hungry wordsmith, and author of the wackiest newsletter in London, Nectarine News.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been, well, me.

I was born loving the colour pink and wanting to be famous. I recently re-read my earliest diary entries and discovered that my favourite song has been Babycakes, the iconic 2004 tune by UK group 3 of a Kind, since I was five-years-old. This is not to say I haven’t experienced my fair share of uncertainty and confusion along the way, though.

In a Year 9 maths class, someone told me that I vaguely resemble Louise (aka Chelsie Padley) from the CBBC classic Tracy Beaker. Ever since that eventful lesson, whenever I’m bored of my own personality, Louise has become my alias. Labelling this an identity crisis might be a bit of a reach – you could also call it an excellent attention seeking weapon to pull out at parties, which is what I like to do.

Once, I had a Sunday roast with my best friend’s entire extended family. Unbeknownst to me, one of her aunties was a huge fan of Tracy Beaker and asked to take a photo with me, thinking I was actually Louise from the show. And I went along with it.

She uploaded our selfie to Facebook and I was overcome with a manic sense of guilt. I sheepishly explained that I had not been entirely truthful, and she awkwardly deleted the post. Honestly, I have now gotten so lost in this lie that I sometimes forget who knows the truth and who doesn’t. Even me! If the only reason you read this column is because you think I’m Louise, all I can say is, soz.

If you’re uncertain as to who you really are, one tactic I’d highly recommend is getting a tattoo of the things you like or enjoy. This is a fairly quick (and permanent) way to remind yourself of them, and it can also keep you on the straight and narrow.

I have the words Halloween”, Lol” and Peach” jotted around my body in various, easily readable spots. If I ever forget my favourite holiday, acronym or fruit, I look to my hip and there it is.

Next week, I’m getting Porridge’ tattooed in graffiti font on my outer thigh. If I were ever to experience amnesia, at least I’ll know what I want for breakfast, eh?”

A couple of years ago, I was in a fairly uptight phase of my life where I took everything very seriously. One day, I was sitting on Portobello Road eating a salad and acted on an instant impulse. 45-minutes and £120 later, I’d put an end to this unfortunate sincerity patch by getting Lol” tattooed on my ankle. I’ve not taken anything seriously since. Invest in yourself!

Next week, I’m getting Porridge” tattooed in graffiti font on my outer thigh. If I were ever to experience amnesia, at least I’ll know what I want for breakfast, eh?

Even if you are secure in your own identity, dating someone with different interests and hobbies can subtly help you find your feet – just look at Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker.

Sometimes, however, this can go the other way. I recently dated a person who smoked a lot of weed and wore a lot of black. The day I found myself buying a CBD pen from Camden Market was the moment I realised I was edging dangerously close to a full-blown identity crisis. I looked in the mirror and said: I love pink!” out loud, three times. It helped.

One of my pals experienced something similar. Her partner loves a baggy cargo pant and beanie combo, but at the start of their relationship, she was a self-professed Topshop Joni jeans kinda gal. Five years later, she wouldn’t look out of place behind the counter at Supreme. She’s thankful for the switch-up.

I think that’s a lesson in itself: change is not always a bad thing. I checked myself recently when I realised I’d spent over £30 in a single month on gossip magazines. I thought, Who have I let myself become?” But this may just be my destiny – one filled with WHSmith loyalty scheme rewards.

What I’m trying to say is, if you think you’re having an identity crisis, just take a breather. Go with the flow, roll with the punches. Be patient with yourself. Imagine you were made to enter a witness protection programme with a brand new name and whole different life! That would be no fun at all. Embrace the quirks you’ve got, I say. Maybe this is who you were meant to be all along.

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