Making it cool to be yourself again


We’ve all tried to¬†fit in¬†at¬†some point. We’ve changed certain things about ourselves for¬†the¬†sake of¬†acceptance.¬†Most of¬†us have been there, at¬†least I¬†know I¬†have, and¬†it’s okay. It’s part of¬†the¬†process.

Growing up, thanks to¬†high school, I¬†had a¬†very narrow perception of¬†beauty. It basically looked like a¬†slim girl with pretty facial features and¬†long hair. Or¬†a¬†tall guy with muscles and¬†a¬†sense of¬†style. Anything that was different from that (kinky hair, glasses etc.) was considered ugly and¬†subject to¬†mockery and¬†bullying. So I¬†permed my¬†hair, started painting my¬†nails and¬†hung out with the¬†popular kids. I¬†was slowly becoming (or¬†at¬†least trying to¬†be) a¬†prototype of¬†the¬†ideal girl. You had to¬†shave your legs to¬†be girly, start dating kind of¬†early to¬†not be called a¬†“goody two-shoes” or¬†party and¬†break the¬†rules every once in¬†a¬†while because apparently, that’s what the¬†cool kids do.¬†And¬†I¬†did that. I¬†was very naive, but it felt so normal back then. I¬†thought I¬†would finally be¬†accepted into the¬†inner circle if I¬†did all those things. But boy was I¬†wrong!

I was 14 when I was cyber-bullied by the same people I wanted to be accepted by. They posted a compromising picture of me online and made fun of the way I looked in it as if I was forever stuck in that moment. I was heartbroken. It was a very hard time for me, but it was also the lowest point in my journey toward self-love. Like I tend to do in every situation, I used that time to reflect. Thankfully, with every sunrise we get a chance to learn, adapt and create our own reality, and it went uphill from that point on.

I¬†started to¬†reconsider what beauty was and¬†why I¬†thought I¬†could only arrive at¬†it through the¬†things I¬†was doing. I¬†tried to¬†find logical justifications for¬†the¬†“rules” I¬†grew up with, but nothing made sense. Society tells you to¬†act and¬†look a¬†certain way, but then judges you for¬†it. Only then did I¬†realize that¬†it was necessary to¬†create your own definition of¬†beauty and¬†live by¬†it and¬†it all starts with you being true to¬†yourself. I¬†became aware that no matter how hard you try to¬†live by¬†what people think of¬†or¬†expect from you, there will be at¬†least one person¬†who will bring up dirt and¬†find something negative to¬†say. It’s just human nature; you can’t please everyone. So the¬†question then becomes, who should you live to¬†satisfy?

If it was possible to¬†have two or¬†more humans share the¬†same body and¬†soul, then perhaps the¬†answer would be different. As¬†selfish as¬†it may sound, the¬†answer is you. No one will have the¬†exact same ambitions, thoughts, feelings and¬†experiences as¬†you so it is necessary to¬†live by¬†your own principles. Question the¬†validity of¬†everything they have taught you and, if it doesn’t resonate with you, leave it out. We live in¬†a¬†world where there is pressure to¬†conform to¬†everything, even if it goes against one‚Äôs own morals. This may sound radical, but society does not have the¬†formula for¬†everyone’s happiness.¬† What may work for¬†the¬†majority of¬†people won’t necessarily work for¬†you. Nobody can claim to¬†know how everything should be as¬†the¬†same won’t apply for¬†everyone. There’s beauty in¬†everything and¬†it’s all a¬†matter of¬†perception, but if you limit yourself to¬†one way of¬†thinking, you will not only miss out on¬†it, but you will also deny the¬†part of¬†you that is always yearning for¬†progress.¬†You are your own person, with a¬†distinct character, vision and¬†perception so don’t hesitate to¬†remove whatever doesn’t align with your soul. Stay in¬†touch with yourself. Pay attention to¬†the¬†way you experience things and¬†your feelings. Take time to¬†learn what makes you happy and¬†what doesn’t, and¬†once you figure that out, indulge only in¬†that which can add to¬†that.

Be unapologetic in¬†loving yourself and¬†doing the¬†things that you feel passionate about. Now the¬†how-to of¬†this is not simple, but it begins with the¬†realization that you feel happiest when you don’t seek approval from others. During the¬†time when I¬†was doing everything for¬†acceptance, I¬†never realized that I¬†had given up on¬†myself. What was supposed to¬†feel like happiness felt like a¬†constant struggle to¬†be and¬†act a¬†certain way. And¬†that turned out to¬†be nothing more than an¬†extraordinary waste of¬†energy.

Train your mind to¬†break free from the¬†pressure laid upon you by¬†the¬†expectations of¬†others. You are your own person and¬†none can take away your essence. By¬†thinking of¬†other people, acting like them, accepting their experiences as¬†your truth, you miss out on¬†the¬†real sensation of¬†letting yourself be. You have all the¬†things you need inside of¬†you, and¬†all it takes is focusing within. Being accepted by¬†everyone is overrated. Let’s make it cool to¬†be ourselves again!

Shelcy Joseph

Image: Elexio.com



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