Somebody once told me ‘People are like onions’. An obscure statement, yes – one that may conjure up nostalgic images of dirty green creatures and talking donkeys – but I think that gentle beast may have been onto something.
Identity crises have been a recurring theme in my life as of late; a constant confliction between who I am to other people, with who I think I am inside my feverish brain.
Who am I to those friendly folk with whom I trade the odd passing greeting? Who am I to the people that see only my trivial ramblings on the internet? Who am I to my oldest, dearest friends?
Despite a number of meaningful, honest and genuine connections in my life, I can’t help but fear that so many have only ever managed to skim the surface of my outermost layer. And this idea is explored so easily with the help of a metaphor that our widely-loved, Scottish swamp man gifted to us in some of our most impressionable years: onions.
It is only human to see someone at face value and assume you know them; I do it regularly. But it is so easy to forget that beneath that tough outer casing, there is layer upon layer of detail and complexity. This intricacy intrigues me deeply, but also scares me beyond belief. I don’t want to be restricted to one facet of my character and I don’t want to close my mind to the depth that lies beneath what I see in others. I have an overwhelming curiosity to dig deeper into the lives of my fellow humans and a constant craving to be uncovered myself.
But despite my niggling and overactive existential thoughts, I have decided to instead embrace an anticipation for the intellectual intimacy that awaits me in every new connection I make, whilst enjoying the aspects of myself that are already out and about in the meantime.
I can now appreciate the idea that over time – through experiences both good and bad, and connections both deep and fleeting – my many layers of self will slowly peel back. Each freshly exposed sheet may slightly sting my eyes with tears (and the air might contain a slight hint of body odour) but it will be worth every second to know that despite my tough exterior, eventually someone will make the effort to get to the softest, tastiest, most fascinating part.
And when that happens, it’ll do.
It’ll do donkey, it’ll do.
Words by Poppy Fitzpatrick.
Image by William Hill.