When do we reach that point where we are happy to just be ourselves?

I remember primary school. No I really do. I know it was ages ago but I remember names from my first year, I remember how I felt, I remember my teachers, and I remember those how, in those early years, you do actually gain an identity. You break away from your parents for a few short hours a day and begin to develop your own tastes. Likes and dislikes that, although may follow in your parents footsteps, are as individual as your own self.

As you grow, your personality becomes evident in the things you do, the way you talk. You don’t spend hours in front of the mirror making sure everything is just perfect, and you don’t care if you have to wear a uniform, because in reality, isn’t the only thing that matters is that you’re having fun?

Then comes the realisation, somewhere in those early years, that not everyone is the same. You begin to judge, and watch others be judged, and be judged yourself. Somebody likes you because you said something right, somebody dislikes you because you did something wrong (like eating dried apricots for lunch instead of Mars Bars – yes, the kids at my school ate Mars Bars for lunch, something I wished desperately to join them in but for some reason I never found a Mars Bar in my lunch box, could have been something to do with my parents trying to look after my health or something to that degree, but I certainly didn’t see it that way when I was eight years old), somebody tells you that “you could be so much cooler if only you wore…..[insert appropriate fashion label for your generation here]”. (That person for me was a boy called Jay, who told me I could be popular if I stopped talking to that girl who couldn’t walk properly, apparently “No one speaks to her ‘cos she’s dumb.” – she didn’t seem dumb to me, actually she was quite smart!)

So you start to choose your words a little more carefully. Your eyes scan the playground everytime you stumble hoping that no body of importance had seen you make such a fool of yourself. You stop playing on the monkey bars, and you start sitting by the canteen. In short, you stop having fun.

At about this point your parents decide to teach you a lesson about non conformity.

“No, you do not need those Reeboks, there is nothing wrong with your Kmart brand shoes….. It doesn’t matter what the other kids wear.”

But teaching non-conformist views to a child who only wants to be friends with everyone could never work. The more “un labelled” clothing you are forced to wear the more you try to conform, and if you can’t conform with clothing, then you will darn well conform socially. You drop that friend who has held you back because everyone thinks shes “dumb” (a very versatile word in the vocabulary of an eight year old!) and you start to make everything else about you as bourgeois as life will allow. 

That is until you reach highschool. Then, just as you are learning how to keep on top of trends everything changes. You meet a friend who is so left of centre that they make you realise that conforming is actually not the “cool” thing anymore. Now you need to be individual. And how do you achieve that? Well, you dreadlock your hair, wear tiny droplets of sparkly glitter glue at various artistic locations over your face, dramatic eyeliner, home fashioned clothes (that is typical conformist clothing with your own weird and wonderful alterations made to them – such as the pair of jeans – yay, I finally got a pair of $160 Stussy jeans –that you ripped the seams on and then tied back up with rainbow coloured rope…. Now I wonder why that would make your parents mad…) You become a poet, or an artist, or both. You know, do what all the other “individuals” do… because that is what people expect.

It is not until years later, when you are sitting contemplating your teenage life, that you realise all your attempts at being original were just a desperate need for people to see something in you, something different. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t the “real” you, as long as people noticed that you didn’t care what people thought of you. How’s that for an oxymoron! After all, if you really didn’t care what people thought of you, wouldn’t you have spent all that money that you used on strange hats to buy something more true to your own self, like sugar-coated cream filled eclairs?

And now sitting back realising that, isn’t it refreshing to know that now, as an adult, you have broken free of that need for people to see something in you. Isn’t it relaxing to finally be yourself.

I can’t help but wonder though, why is it, I sit here, happy in myself that I care no more for what people think of me, and, at the same time playing with that piece of leather that I tie around my wrist most mornings? I hate that bit of leather, it makes my wrist sweat. And why do I spend nearly an hour in the morning straightening my hair? I know it’s doing damage, and I curse those little bits that just stick up straight, they never do that when I am just lounging around the house being “curly”. I know it’s because that’s what people expect.

So, when is it okay to be ourselves? When do we turn from a character that is judged so harshly by others, into an eccentric old lady who cares not a bit for what people will think of her because she didn’t bother doing her hair this morning?

And when will I finally get to spend all my money on cream filled eclairs?

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~ by Alissa Anderton on September 21, 2009.

2 Responses to “When do we reach that point where we are happy to just be ourselves?”

  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Tony Brown

    • Thanks so much – I love that someone actually read it! I was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe I was talking to myself!! LOL

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