Wait- Who Am I?

messy thoughts

Emma is the editor & creator (and occasionally writer) for The Messy Heads. She enjoys yellow curry, print media, and singing to herself.

Confession. I got a comment the other day that really made me question myself.

It was so simple, the person just said “I really miss how you used to dress boho. I hope you go back to dressing like that. I miss it so much. You have changed.”

And totally, my style has changed. My lifestyle has changed, my wardrobe changed with it. I now take the subway three times a day and walk an average of five miles across crooked sidewalks and run across the street as the LED red hand blinks faster and faster. I’m dressing more practical, sneakers that I can run to catch a train in, t-shirts that are easy to toss on, denim because stains aren’t as noticeable. But the types of garments I am attracted to, the colors I like, the styles I’m into? Those are completely different compared to even two months ago. Am I a floppy trend follower? Or is this just because of my recent city switch?

But I feel like this often. I am finding that aspects of my personality are too fluid, and that two people who know me very well might describe me entirely differently. So often I fill the role of what I need to be for a person, or I figure out how I fit into a group and assume that position. I wish I was one of those people who was unwaveringly the same in front of absolutely everybody, but I’m just.. not. Some would say I’m an introvert, others would say I’m an extrovert. Some would say I’m hilarious, and others would say I’m “really nice”. The me I show completely depends on you, and my situation.

Sometimes I jump to hear what other people have to say about me. Not because I want my ego to be stoked, but because I’m looking for those common nuggets of what make up Emma. What is my foundation, what is my base? How is it possible that I love the Beach Boys as much as I love Kendrick Lamar? That I could live forever in isolation by the seaside, but also be a city dweller until my dying day? How can the same person constantly conflict themself?

Haley (my roommate from LA & one of my best friends) and I are usually on the same wavelength, so when she texted me that she was feeling the same way, I wasn’t surprised. We are both pisces, born just a few days apart, and often discuss the fluidity of our personality and emotions.


Identity is tied to ego (read a New Earth!). And Haley and I once contemplated planes of existence over avocado toast sitting on the floor of our kitchen for a few hours. Basically dissecting how human interaction is happening on so many levels: verbal, action, intentions, thought, reception, assumption, etc. We affectionately call them “planes of existence” and they hardly ever align.

Underneath everything, what it boils down to is: you are your thoughts, more specifically, you are your intentions.

The manifestation of yourself may burst in a lot of different ways, making it seem like you’re always changing. And you can never, ever predict how somebody is going to receive you, which adds another layer of identity crisis. Combining all of these elements… expressing your authentic self all the time seems to be a near impossible task.

My authentic self feeling like a butterfly, evading me the more and more I try to catch it, and then softly sitting on my shoulder when I am unaware of it and in the middle of just living life. Sometimes I feel I know myself “like the back of my hand,” and other times I look at myself in the mirror and hardly recognize her.

And that’s okay. I allow myself the freedom to redefine myself daily. If I was steadfast and so sure of myself, I might miss out on a lot of experiences that are “not me” and a lot of self discovery. Personality traits are just words after all, and they could never fully encompass a person. If somebody were to ask me to describe Haley, or anyone else I love in my life, I would have a hard time. They are multifaceted, dynamic, and ever changing humans. They are so predictable but at the same time so surprising.

You have to experience their presence, in the same way you might experience emotions. You can’t confine sadness to the word “sad”. It’s truly felt in tears, in sighs, in aches in your heart, in feelings that you can’t shake, and the way your head spins like you just rode a tilt-a-whirl.

So experience yourself. And don’t worry too much about defining yourself.

This goes for you too, Emma.


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  1. Margot says

    I wish I could have that kind of thoughts by my own. What you say about yourself sounds so right to me about myself. It is just so clear, obvious, and perfectly expressed. We are who we are, but also constantly changing (hopefully I can say “constantly evolving”) but sometimes it’s hard to catch what you are exactly at some point. It’s confusing, but also wonderful. You are always surprised by yourself and the others. Finally I think we grow up as a tree, we keep our roots, but we get new leaves.

  2. Wow this piece is SO important! I struggle with this despite not being a pieces, I often feel as though my personality alters with different people, the way I carry myself, how quiet/loud I am, the traits I choose to explore etc etc. It sometimes leads me to wonder “am I being fake by changing parts of me depending on the person I speak to?” But I don’t think I am, I change unintentionally, I don’t consciously decide to act a particular way, it just happens. So I have to accept that my personality is multifaceted and I can’t help that. However I am trying to act the same around everyone I meet, to have an unwavering personality, to maintain the same tones no matter who I speak to and such.
    This is such a great discussion and I think it should be kept going.
    Oh and like you said, when you feel that way about yourself at least you know you have the lean way to constantly reinvent yourself, even on a daily basis.

  3. Nicole says

    This helps me SO much. I am not a pisces, but relate to this 100%. I’m always like “well how can I be this way but also be that way? Does that make sense?” I feel that so many pieces of my personality contradict each other but they’re all so equally ME. I’ve gradually learned to accept it’s ok that I can’t put myself into a box or define myself in clear terms, and that that’s actually pretty awesome, but it can still feel confusing sometimes, and MESSY. But I love knowing I’m not the only one who has these questions. Thanks Em xx

  4. Anonymous says

    This is really profound and beautiful. I think so many people feel this way and become overwhelmed with figuring out who they really are instead of just letting it flow (myself included!) so thank you for this!

  5. I got pretty emotional reading this because I relate to it so much. I find myself questioning who I “really” am on a daily basis. I mean I wear what I like and feel comfortable in, I do things because I feel like it’s what I should be doing. My style has changed a lot over the years. I love the whole “boho/hippy” vibed outfits then again I can wear all black with circle glasses with a choker and still feel me? Where I live at everyone conforms to the same things and me having this “different” sense of being is deemed as “hippy” or “weird” or the typical “you’re so white. a total white girl in a black girls body.” i’ve changed the way i’ve done things, and what I wore to try to “fit in” only to find that fitting in isn’t me. Being “normal” isn’t me, being rude, and selfish isn’t me. I may be a little lost in some senses but one thing I do know is that you change, I change, we change and what we come by, and get influenced by isn’t always as bad. I’m not really sure if this made sense, or anything I just wanted to say that.

    Hope you have a lovely day Emma xx

  6. Savannah Schoonover says

    I have CHILLS over this. I’ve been struggling over this so much. I am also a Pisces and was unaware of how eclectic our personas or “identities” can be. Thank you so much, love you guys <3

  7. steph kane says

    i really like the idea that we are our intentions + our behaviours. my intentions might direct me to donate to charity because i think it will help others, and someone else may donate to charity because they think it will help others. but they also have another primary intention. to be recognised. so they donate with their name, and i donate anonymously, because i value recognition in this particular context, less. we are the manifestation of our most prominent intentions, but we are more than that. we are acting unconsciously. my intention might be to study, but i spend the day trawling the internet to connect with others; therefore am i my intention? or am i my behaviour? our unconscious mind influences us more than anything, so that is what drives 80% of our behaviours, so in a way, we are really not our intention, but our unconscious most of the time. when we are acting out an intent, is that not just a moment in time where our unconscious matches up with our intention?

  8. steph kane says

    also, at any point in time, we are made up of everything we have experienced. we are the words that we hear, the images that we consume, the people we surround ourselves around with, the books that we read. so to define is to limit. to quote mean girls, ‘the limit does not exist.’ it is like that with our bodies, and our minds. at any one time, we are made up of every minute detail that has surrounded us; what we choose to attend to becomes our most prominent way of living, our identity, per se. for example, if i see that a girl living in vans and bohemian dresses embodies the traits that i too would like to possess (and already do possess), i may choose to dress like her, believing that this is a true representation of the ideal image that those traits of being free-spirited, iconoclastic and humane, look like, in their material manifestation. it’s like tweet that you once posted on your twitter, ‘do you like the stuff you really like, or do you like the way it was sold to you?’ i believe everything is being sold to us, words, images, ideas, and when something rings true to a value that we want to hone in on, we buy into that, adding layer upon layer to the multifaceted being that we already are. at any given time, we can be anyone. but we choose to represent ourself in the clothes, habits and daily mentality of the people who represent that ideal to us. we seek out our identity through others. who looks like the person i want to become? who embodies the traits that i want to possess? sure, we have our own identities, but what is an identity beyond the traits that we inherited from our parents and the upbringing that we each experienced? the culture that we were born into? our friends? what we read? what we were taught? Each person is a physical embodiment of each of these things; and of his or her own intentions, aswell, as we choose to attend to actions which heighten the expression of certain values, and choose to eschew actions which do not ring true into our highest values. who someone is ‘deep inside’, is in part, what that person chooses to attend to, on any given day, and the more this collection of behaviours is attended to, the more it becomes a stable aspect of ones identity. there is also ones ‘temperament’ which remains stable over time, but that is only one aspect of you. you are also your values, your intrigues, your actions and what you believe you are capable of. that is, if i believe that i can change, i will change. if i believe compassion will change the world, i will value it more, and i will become more compassionate. so are we not our beliefs, intentions, genetics, our upbringing, our choices, our ideals, our temperaments and our unconscious drives? all these things influence how our behaviour is expressed. how is this something that we can choose to limit, by something so simple as an ‘identity?’ how can something that can be expressed by a word, embody something that is so far reaching and complex? words only capture a one-dimensional aspect. they do not capture every detail. some details elude us through words, and the selection of one word over another, eschews another expression of reality that is simultaneously being expressed. indeed, as you say, someone’s description of me may be completely different to how i see me. who whose description is right? surely not mine, as i am limited in what i can see, and surely not theirs because they are limited in what i choose to express. so perhaps we are everything. we are the selection of words that move one person to tears, we are the warm hug on a sunday morning. we are the friendly face in the sea of people at university. we are different things to different people, at different points in time. the more we cling to the idea that we are fixed, to consistency, the less we allow ourselves to be so much more. the less we allow change. the less we grow. and the less we think. when we surrender to the notion that we can be anyone, to someone else, we can change in an instant; we can moderate our behaviour, we can select words that can move others, we can be focused on assisting others, we can be focused on changing ourselves. the more we cling to this idealised notion of static identity, the more we mar ourselves to the past. and the more we limit who we are in the present. thank you for encouraging me to be fluid today, emma xx

  9. possibly, actually definitely one of my favourite writings of yours. this really clicked with me…and damn that thing with the intentions and ego…damn damn damn. thank u for sharing this girlie

  10. Emma you are such an inspirational writer and an inspirational woman. I just kicked off my blog about a week ago and honestly you inspire me so much. I remember I emailed you a long while ago about how much you inspire me. You didn’t happen to reply. But I honestly think you are a beautiful human being who’s inspiring many

  11. I loved this piece!! So beautifully written and such a good way to live life. I have noticed before thru insta that you adapt to your environment, and that is my favourite thing about you and what makes you so real. You can pull anything off and I love how you don’t have a specific style, you ‘throw things on’ and somehow it works. To me, it inspires me to not worry about what you look like but how you feel. I’d say don’t change that about yourself, but that’s about to you, not me and I don’t want to put that pressure on u. U r the best em

  12. It made me feel so light to read what i always think. How is it possinle that my mom thinks she knows me a hundred procent and my bestfriends do but they dont know the same person. Is that bad? is that a sign of insicureness or fakeness? i really dont know. Its been years now that i try to figure out how this stuff workes and what i can do in order to make it stop but maybe i shouldnt, maybe this is normal and i should just leave it this way…
    Thank you for charing this anyway, it means a lot to me. x

  13. Anonymous says

    EMMA! seriously one of your best posts yet; i’ve been thinking on it all day. I’ve consistently felt like this my whole life and always disliked how fluid I am in different situations. I thought I was going crazy, but this made me see a whole new perspective. Loved it and keep up the great work!

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  15. Marcelle says

    This is brilliant — something i have been questioning especially these past couple of weeks. Brand new perspective, thankyou

  16. Malise says

    Emma this is your best post I have read! I have been thinking about this exact thing for almost my whole life, and not once have I been able to articulate what it is, let alone as beautifully as you just did. Thankyou thankyou thankyou!!! This makes so much flippin sense I’m in tears❤️❤️❤️

  17. Anonymous says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. also the convo you had with Haley totally goes back to moral philosophy, which I’m learning about in my philosophy class rn. super interesting stuff. and super relevant to my life right now. keep inspiring girl xx

  18. Mila Perrin says

    lately i have been feeling the exact same way. and for me to know that others are feeling like this doesn’t make me feel so alone. i love all your post, but this one was fucking outstanding. everything you said was truly amazing and definitely my favourite!!! lotsa love

  19. Anonymous says

    i read this article two days ago and this really got me thinking about how lost i really am on my real identity. i found this video which honestly made me emotional. thandie newton talks about her troubles of finding ‘self’ as she is rejected by the world. she even claims that “her self had a projection and a function” and that she “doesn’t let it control her”. i highly recommend watching it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzKBGtf0i0M

  20. wow i love this and i can totally relate. i’m a pisces myself and i’ve found myself thinking about this a lot but never really discussed it with anyone since it always feels/felt like something no one would understand or never a thought that crossed their mind. I always feel like I might not be who i want to be yet, but i can see the exact type of person i really am. or i feel the complete opposite, like i have no idea of who i am and that theres a million type of ways i would like to be and the fact that I’m always adjusting myself to the environment I’m in. as you wrote, i always wonder how others perceive me and how they would describe me since i don’t really know myself, its like i can’t categorise myself which makes it really confusing. as you described it “My authentic self feeling like a butterfly, evading me the more and more I try to catch it, and then softly sitting on my shoulder when I am unaware of it and in the middle of just living life”.

    so this kinda gave me comfort, that you don’t have to be a certain person with certain qualities, but that you can change constantly and although its very confusing at times, its also nice knowing that you never have to be just one “type of person”.

    thanks for having a phenomenal website! xo

  21. Reading this felt like I was saying it through my own words. I can’t believe how similar I feel. As of now I am going to college somewhere that cages in my creativity. I feel like I’m living so shallowly. I want more then anything to find friends that are like me and who like the same things and to live somewhere where I’m surrounded with people who get me.

  22. THIS. I am struggling so much with this right now and trying to find some stability in my sense of self and it’s painful. It’s painful not knowing how to just “be myself”. I look back on all these years and realise that I have always just been trying to be what I thought i was expected to be in each situation but it’s left me empty and lost. i should not have to TRY to BE. Im so ridiculously happy to realise there are people who GET this. I wish i had relationships as meaningful as you do with people i could talk about this stuff with! shit’s always surface deep. it’s weird to have thoughts it seems..

  23. Truly enjoyed reading this. I’m infatuated with the Pisces sign, they really do take on so much of their envrionment and are entirely effected by it. My boyfriend is a Pisces and he’s only in a healthy state of mind when he feels that he’s in his environment, wherever that is meant to be. He’s been struggling with it when he’s around his family and reading this really helped me take on that perception. You inspire me so much to get up and go see the other “environments” out there, and I’m interested to how the meaning of “me” would change in such. Sending you love & light, ladies… Xo

    Laura the Leo

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  25. Letícia Fernandes says

    Just read this today and realise how important is to start the new year knowing that you are able to change and that this is okay.I spend the pass years trying to decide what I was going to be and I remember being really young and thinking “Okay now I have to be perfect , so I will just act and be different from what I really am”. I am so happy to read this and the goal for the new year for me will be accept myself and allow myself to change.I hope everyone read this , thank you for writing Emma ❤

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