Identity is a funny thing. What do you describe yourself as?
First of all, I’m Jasmine.
Names must have started of as an easy labelling mechanism, but soon they became part of who we are. I will forever be compared to princess Jasmine, to a camgirl website called Jasmine, to Jasmine rice and tea.
I will forever be asked if I prefer a soft or hard J, if I’m looking for my Aladdin.
I will forever know when my name came up when a list of attendees is read because the reader will start to stutter when they see my last name.
Then, we list our jobs, our family positions, our origins.
I am where my parents were born, what passion I first pursued and which promised a stable income. I am young and brown and woman until it is no longer my turn to speak.
I hate asking people what they do, and still it is often the first thing out of my mouth.
If I wanted to get to know them, shouldn’t I rather ask:
When did you first realise your parents are fallible?
Where did your heart first break?
Do you still believe in hope?
What I’m trying to get at is this:
Did we become what we are describing, or do we become it as we speak?
If I am a woman and women are gentle, am I the chicken or the egg?
Am I the princess or the protagonist?
I didn’t choose my first name, nor my last.
I chose my career in the past, and wish to change it every time I read someone else’s memoir.
When did my labels start sticking to my skin, their ink seeping into my blood, until I no longer knew who was what?
The more I think about who I am, the less I am myself.
I become the describing and not the describee. Can anyone really be both?
On days like today my identity starts to fade, and I disassociate.
My trauma becomes too heavy for one person to bear, and I become many who all forget where we are. I order takeaway, I binge watch TV, I write long paragraphs that don’t really make sense.
These days have become much rarer as my identity becomes more secure.
Meaning that I am okay with my identity being nothing at all.
Because I am neither a list nor a listing.
I can be artist today and business tomorrow and not betray myself in the slightest.
My thoughts are no longer allowed to dictate who I am, they only repeat what they have heard before.
Now I look at my actions since daybreak to define myself.