Throughout my life, I’ve struggled off and on with doing my best to stay real. There have been times when I’d spend a whole day acting a certain way, and then when I get home later, I realize how fake I was. Laughing at things I wouldn’t really laugh at; pushing myself to act overly bubbly, as if I were actually that happy. I know from experience that when I feel terrible after a day of being with people, it’s because I wasn’t being myself. I was trying to play a character I wasn’t born to play, and thus came stress and striving with it. I used to pretend that I had my life all together. I knew I didn’t, but I thought that when you’re around people, you’re supposed to pretend that you do. You’re supposed to not be a burden, but be happy around them instead. Because everyone loves being around happy people, right? Those girls that smile beautifully and seem problem-free are the ones that attract the biggest crowd. So I’d choose a girl who I thought had it all, and subconsciously spend the day imitating how I imagined she’d act if she were in my shoes. The unnatural hand gestures and fake laugh proved extremely unpromising. I hated it. I did terrible; it felt so wrong. But at the same time, I admired her, so I thought that if I were like her, others would admire me the same way. Eventually I learned it doesn’t work like that. The people that I used to feel love from didn’t love me more. It felt as if they were beginning to dislike who I was becoming, and so did I.
After enough failed attempts to be like some famous youtuber, and after enough misery and self-dislike from failing, I finally quit. I realized I was always happier when I could act like who I knew I was. I always did best around people when I was confident of the personality that God gave me. So thus began a mission to be myself. It was honestly much harder than the people who say, “Just be yourself,” make it sound. Being yourself is not easy in this world. It’s almost like an art we have to learn, and practice until it comes, with us no longer trying. The first issue I addressed was the root of it all–my mindset. For some reason the belief that I was not good enough was indented in me. I felt like I was lacking–not pretty enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, not skinny enough, etc. The list could go on forever if I let it.
My point is that, our physical appearance does not affect our happiness. The luxury of being content with who you are is one hundred percent a choice. One which you choose to make several times a day. It’s almost like flipping a switch on or off. I used to think happiness came with a certain scale number. From 58 kilograms, I expected happiness to come when the scale finally read 54 kg. I didn’t. Neither did it come at 50 kg. And it still wasn’t there at 48 kg. The only thing that didn’t bother me at 48 kg was the self-hatred and guilt. They finally left me alone. I was skinniest I’ve ever been, but I was also the most miserable I’ve ever been, the most frightened, the most unhappy. I was ashamed of myself, but still, the self-hate didn’t bother me, so I lived like this for a while–until I couldn’t anymore. But that’s a story for another day. Let’s go back to the subject: mindset. Right.
After trying to be like other people for so long, I had forgotten what my authentic character was. I imagined scenarios in my head and tried to figure out, would the real me laugh like this, or that? Would I go out and act happy even if was just crying that same morning about something I’m going through? I realized that I should just resort to doing whatever makes me genuinely happy with myself. If no one else’s opinion mattered, what would I do in this situation? If it were literally just me in the world, what would I choose? I began asking myself these questions when I wasn’t sure, and whenever I chose to do what I would if no one were looking, I realized I was being myself. It was the personality that flowed without striving. It gave me peace, and it’s also what I felt my friends loved. See, the people in your life choose to be in your life. You couldn’t make them stay if they really didn’t want to. And if they’re real friends, they’ve probably seen the real you. Yet despite this, they’re still here. So why would they want you to be someone else? They don’t. If someone thinks you have a sucky personality, it’s because they’ve been around you when you weren’t yourself.
The truth is that, everyone is longing for authenticity. No one is perfect, but everyone feels like they should be. So why not be yourself, and show them that it’s okay for them to be themselves too. It’s comforting to see other people make mistakes. Not because we’re bad people who want to see others fail. It comforts us because it lets us know that we’re not the only ones that aren’t perfect. The more I payed attention to how people are authentic, and how sometimes we try to sugar coat ourselves, the more I saw how amazingly beautiful what we call “imperfection” is. What we sometimes identify as “flaws” are what some people fall in love with. I’ve seen girls make mistakes, and be extremely embarrassed, while standing right beside her is her boyfriend who’s looking at her like she’s the most beautiful human. And what she just did just made her more adorable. I’ve watched little kids pronounce words incorrectly, and see adult smile at them, as if it were the cutest thing. See, it’s actually not necessarily the imperfections that are what’s attractive, but the authenticity of the person that it comes with. It’s what gives the world color. It’s what keeps life exciting. But when you are being yourself, it doesn’t only do the world good, it also gives you peace. There’s a sweet rest that comes when you stop striving. And if not for anyone else, just do it for yourself. Because at the end of the day, no one else’s opinion really matters. Whether you’re naturally loud, or quiet; funny, or one who laughs at other’s jokes; strongly opinionated, or one who goes along, the universe needs you to be you. You add something that matters. And it may not be evident right now, but someday you’ll see. We all will.