Pink Gradient

All New Persona : Grappling With Identity in Isolation

By Anoushka Bradley-Gammanpila

I am in a quiet, Charlotte-Perkins-Gilman-hell figuring myself out again. I was under the illusion that this house, that this home, would remember me. But why would it do that? Aside from the accidental iron imprint marked into the dead blueness of the carpet, there is no trace of me left here. And that’s okay.

I’ve been living extended days balancing life between oceans, between clocks. The mundane prevails. I watch a film. I listen to the sirens. Sometimes, in the late afternoon, the light will fracture through the thin veins of our overgrown lime tree and do a slow waltz across the wall. I look in the mirror for too long and unsurprisingly, someone else stares back. I never thought about the implications stapled to this crafted character, and I stumble upon trying to determine whether this is an identity crisis or simply part of growing up. Both, or neither. The days drag on and I’m not sure that I care to solve the riddle. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem so important.

So the mirror’s promise is a bored cynic for company.

It’s okay, you have to whisper to yourself once in a while. Everyone’s doing it. Not the whispering necessarily, but the slow living. The frantic patting-down-of-pockets to check that you’re still there. The dream would be to hold onto that sigh of relief once you realise that you’re real. Then you could prise it from the moment and treat it like a string to pull along into the next few months, the way a toddler’s comfort blanket slides across each surface they discover, or rediscover. The truth is, relief will snap back like a rubber band against your wrist- and so the cycle continues. Nowadays there’s always something to worry about, it feels wrong not to. Even when things settle down you panic about relaxing, as if you’ve missed something. My favourite task, it seems, is completing the mind's journey skipping to and fro between the rings of the calm and the storm. Pull yourself together, play it cool.

But I do know this: I am ready for a big change in my life. Something to reverse this mess, or something to push me through it. All this time alone gave me space to work on myself, but no time to rehearse my All New Persona. For months I have starred in a one woman show and played the part of the audience too. Do I like who I am? I think so, but a part of me feels almost guilty about it. And I’m scared to revert back to who I used to be, fearing that someone will rip at my seams, easily tearing at them like they would a cheap garment. Growth is good, but growth is scary especially when it feels false. I wonder whether anyone graduates from painstakingly designing their facade, or if we all just fool ourselves to the point of acceptance. And once that happens, does everyone else submit to the fact that you’ve evolved or devolved into what you are? Maybe they don’t care, they never noticed! But stewing away, alone in your room has gifted you with the deluded sense that you are the only person who exists. In fact, you may just be the only person who has ever existed.

So that’s it. You’re not some invention. Or- you are, but you wear the guise well enough for it to become your face. And isn’t that what you wanted?