On owning who you are

whatever you are, be a good oneA startling amount of people tend to play down the qualities that make them unique, often because they are ashamed of what they are. Society has a lot of opinions, and the unfortunate fact of life is that “you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” (-Dita von Ceese). You can be an athlete and there will always be a whole subset of the population who resents you or judges you for it. You could love fashion, and you can bet that someone out there is going to think you’re vain. You could be a theoretical physicist, and there are people out there who don’t believe in your science. It can be difficult to come to terms with, but the best way to be unhappy is to try to please everyone. You simply never will, and that’s okay.

A girl who wears a full face of makeup every day and carefully selects her outfits might feel the need to prove she isn’t a “weak” narcissist by overplaying her interest in football. A boy who finds physics fascinating may complain about the class to his friends so as to maintain his “cool” status. An honors student might overstate her knowledge because she feels that not knowing things is a fault in the circles she runs in. A woman who feels she isn’t “domestic enough” might claim to love doing DIY crafts in her free time, when in fact they merely frustrate and annoy her. And why? I very much understand the social pressure to be acceptable (see my post “A broadened perception of self”), but these past several months I’ve been able to transcend this desire. As Malcom Forbes said, “Too many people undervalue what they are, and overvalue what they are not.”

I happen to be very vain, and I really am not concerned with it. I love fashion, I love makeup. It’s like another form of art. It makes me feel good to look nice–on those days when I wake up late and come to school in sweats, I feel self-conscious all day long. Is that a fault of mine? Maybe. Should I work on my self esteem? Some might say so. But the point is that I’m content with my vanity. I’ve come to accept this about myself. A few years ago on the Ellen show, Chris Colfer said, “If you truly own who you are, no one can use it against you.” That statement could not be more true. I am vain. I can also be impatient, emotional, and stubborn. People tell me these things and I tell them, “I know, I’m working on it.” I don’t feel bad for who I am. In fact, I love myself. I think that’s probably one of the best feelings in the world.

So never apologize for yourself or try to downplay the things you feel are socially unacceptable. Since I’m on such a roll with the relevant quotes today, I’ll throw in another one: “You are terrifying and strange and beautiful, something not everyone knows how to love.” -Warsan Shire. I’ll stop writing before I overdo it on the quotes, but I hope some day you come to terms with yourself and learn to be at peace with who you are. I’ve learned from experience that when you do this, you will truly become happy.

 

On the growing apathy of our nation

I don’t want to sound pretentious. I don’t want to sound rude. I don’t want to make unjust assumtions. But the fact stands that America is getting stupider.

I’m not talking about genetics and IQ, persay. I’m talking about a state of mind. We’ve simplified our world so much that you don’t need to know anything to live or even prosper. No one cares about learning because being educated simply isn’t too relevant in our world anymore, and that is absolutely frightening. The ones who do try in school do so only to get good grades to get into a good college to have a good career to have a good life… but where’s the passion in that? The rest sail through school drowning their organs in alcohol, getting D’s and STDs and laughing about how much “swag” they have. There are millions of people running around in their little corner of the world who can’t point out their own country on a map, and they really don’t see this as a problem.

I do. I think this is absolutely terrifying. Doesn’t anyone crave information? Don’t they want to know why things work the way they do, where sayings and laws and photoshop actions come from, how yeast makes bread rise and green tea boosts metabolism? Is there no lingering curiosity? Why is apathy acceptable?

I know how easy it is to fall into the mindless routine. To not ask the questions, to do the bare minimum, to be “practical” and “realistic”. To waste a whole lot of time partying or sitting around on the internet. But I urge you to break the trend. We live in a big, wonderful world full of endless opportunities. There is always more to learn. Yes, school can be tedious, work can be a drag, but if you go the extra mile, it suddenly becomes worth it. Don’t waste another moment accepting life as it is. Don’t sit around being content with monotony. Don’t make resolutions–dive headfirst into life and all it has to offer.

So read a book. Go on an adventure. Keep a journal. Learn a new skill. Make some plans and stick with them. Go through your life bursting with excitement at each wonderful day and all you have to learn. Take risks. Start a movement. Look a little closer. Share your passion and start a chain reaction. Don’t become another apathetic drone. Ask yourself why. Ask other people why. Question everything.

My hopes for each of you can be summed up in a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”