by Kaela Ante
How do I be myself? That’s an awkward question if you look at it at a first glance. But surprisingly, a lot of people of different ages ask that often. In my college, I do find myself hearing that from others from time to time. Not everyone knows who they are or what they want to do.
And the funny thing is, people usually turn to me for advice regarding this. I don’t know, maybe it’s because they see me as this artsy individual who does things others don’t usually do. But really, there’s no big secret to this and anyone has the right to stand out. So to help out, I compiled a couple tips based on experiences I’ve had and books I’ve read. I always keep these in mind and I hope your awesome self does too.
“To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – E.E. Cummings
1. Love Yourself
“You’ll never share real love until you love yourself.” – RENT
“Love life and life will love you back.” – Arthur Rubinstein
Self-love is very important. And it isn’t selfish at all. You were created in this world as you so you have to embrace every part of it. Don’t waste your time longing to be someone else. The truth is nobody is perfect, okay? I’m not perfect, your friends aren’t perfect, and even those models and celebrities in magazines aren’t. So nothing’s going to happen if you sit around moping and whining about your imperfections and comparing yourself with others. Don’t worry, I myself struggle with that too. (Life in art school is difficult. I find it super hard to avoid comparing my works with others.) But just like everything, it takes practice. In the end it’ll all be worth it anyway. So let’s work together to rid ourselves of comparison and instead, fill ourselves up with self-love. To start, focus on how awesome you are. Go to a mirror now and tell yourself that out loud. You are awesome! Believe me, that helps.
2. Flow with the Go
Being you means being different from everyone else. And guess what? It’s okay. Don’t be afraid to stand out. As SARK says, Don’t go with the flow, flow with the go. Maintain your own flow of thoughts and values as you move forward. Don’t be a cookie-cutter. Sometimes non-conforming and rebelling may take place and you can still do those without make such a big scene. For example, during an outing with your friends wear flats when they’re all wearing heels. Or when lining up for the train, don’t cut your queue or push anyone like the others do. It’s simple and you don’t have to brag and show the whole world how different you are.
3. No Guilty Pleasures
“I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you f*cking like something, like it.” – Dave Grohl
Love what you love. These are your quirks as a person and they make you different from others. Yes, that means not being afraid to share your secret obsession with cheesy soap operas or your fascination with icky cockroaches. In art school nowadays, it’s very common for students to “avoid” trends and be into the whole pretentious, cultured “hipster” thing (ie liking music that no one has heard of because y’know, mainstream sucks bro). And if you’re not into those things, your tastes are looked down on and you are labeled as “uncultured”. I went to art school in the 2010s so I know. Let me just emphasize this: don’t involve yourself with that. You are a gem to this world and you don’t need people telling you what to like. Do your own thing and like what makes you light up. If you are into what’s in, as long as you genuinely like it, then go for it! If you are genuinely fascinated with indie music and flower crowns without falling into the whole pretentious trap, then make yourself happy and go for it! Life is too short to be pretending to be into things to please people. You can still belong even if you don’t fully stick to a particular subculture. So… raise your fist and show that Happy Meal collection with pride!
4. Never forget where you came from
“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” – George R.R. Martin
I don’t watch Game of Thrones but I love that quote…Every person in this Earth has their own experiences to share- these are what makes us humans different from each other. Your values, childhood experiences, and your past- they make up who you are. I understand that there may be painful memories that you’d want to forget. But keep this in mind: they built your character and made you stronger. If you didn’t have those mistakes and failures in the past, you wouldn’t be the person you are today. Don’t try to shrug them off as they if they never happened. Instead, welcome them with open arms and keep on using your learnings from them to your advantage. Accept these personal experiences and welcome them in your life. It may be tempting at times to twist your stories of the past to make you seem interesting, but don’t do it. No one likes a fraud and take note that everyone will find out about those lies eventually.
Also, someday when you’ve decided you made it “big”, don’t forget your family and the people who supported you along the way. They too make up your personal experiences. You wouldn’t be who you are without them. Stay humble.
5. Change is alright
Fun Fact: changing isn’t always a bad thing. Well, provided that this change is something that helps in your improvement and growth as a person. Sometimes there are just things inside of us that stunt our self-growth and have a lot more cons than pros in our lives. How do we get rid of these negative traits? One is by shifting our perception on things. One example Keri Smith has (and something I can relate to) is she procrastinates. But she doesn’t look at it solely as a negative thing. “I see this as a good thing and never limit my playtime because I never know when it will lead to my next big idea,” she says.
Instead of hating on yourself, reinvent these negative traits into positive ones. And it’s never too late to do so. We have the power to reinvent ourselves anytime.
6. Think of yourself as a Brand
I interned at a Branding company during my Junior year of college. If there’s one thing I picked up from there it’s that we need to learn how to “brand ourselves”. It’s important to do so because it gives us an edge over our competition and also so we can narrow down who we want to reach out to/find out the kind of work we’re most comfortable with. By branding, I don’t mean attaching yourself to a specific subculture group label (i.e. hipster, punk, goth. etc). That just means all those little talents, faults, interests, and quirks- they’re what makes us us. Pay attention to those small details that make up who you are. Like, in my case, under my “brand” Kaela, I think of the following adjectives: quirky, childlike, and artsy. Look for a similar pattern in your interests and list them down. What types of movies do you love? What type of music do you often find yourself listening to? Who are the people you look up to? What designs/art styles do you like? (You don’t have to be an “artist” to appreciate art, by the way.) From there, put these all together and you get your “brand/identity”.
Be your authentic YOU. That’s your gift to the world.
If this article helped you or if you have any suggestions, please let me know through my email or through the comments below!