Watching Ellen DeGeneres' response to a pastor's comments towards her and Hollywood's "gay agenda," made me think: first about the idea of a Dr. Evil-style lair of homosexuals who secretly run Hollywood (which made me laugh, because I'm immature), but then about the message she was putting out. "Attention youth of the world: I want you to live your lives, being exactly who you are. The most important thing is to be true to yourself."
How many of us can claim to really be ourselves 100% on a day to day basis? Despite how often we're told to "just be ourselves," the desire is bullied out from a young age by kids on the playground - and then drilled into us that it's weird or wrong to be different by advertising companies as we mature. Yay capitalism! We mould ourselves to the people around us, to fit in, be accepted, and be like the Cool Kids©. Quickly followed by being deemed "basic" if you fit in, and shat on if you don't. Got to love the world we live in.
Between magazine covers advertising how to look, billboards showing what to eat and drink, and pop culture spokespeople dictating how to be doing everything else, I'm as guilty as anyone else when it comes to subscribing to the societal norms. Today's youth are bombarded with products and strategies; all to help us fit in, get laid, and get happy. Ultimately leaving us feeling narcissistic, depressed, and hollow.
And the worst part? Everything we're shown is fake. But humanity is an impressionable creature. And we're marketed at so aggressively that even the most self assured of us is made to feel like dirt so we'll buy a product that will fix us and make us more popular, more sexy, and more like "ourselves."
When did liking yourself start costing money? We're all being fed the lie that being yourself is wrong, and that frankly, being a narcissist and an arsehole is the only way to achieve. Will it get you somewhere? Honestly, yes. But does that mean you have to transform yourself into one to succeed in life? No.
I wrote before about Coming Out Ginger and embracing that part of myself, but in addition to that, I am a gothically pale, Shrek-loving, beer-hating Brit, who - if perfectly honest - is quite partial to 90% of pop music. And the probable, hopeful (but yet unproven,) lovechild of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. So I wear sunscreen and would rather spend my time in a city wearing a coat than on a beach. I can quote an animated green ogre with better proficiency than Will Smith in I Am Legend, and drink cider because I enjoy it. As the kids like to say, I "do me." And it makes me happy, rather than living to please (or be) everybody else.
But despite being set in my ways, I'm still growing. And I'll take no shame in looking to the world for inspiration on how to be my best self - what to read, what looks good on, what seems fun - as we all should aspire to be, but everybody's different. And that shouldn't be forgotten either. I want to see what I can become; not how close of a clone I can be of somebody else. Perhaps rather than follow the example of the Kardashians, or whoever is modeling Beats this week, we should follow Oscar Wilde's example. No, not having a homosexual relationship with a student, but "Be yourself, everybody else is already taken."
So sure, enjoy salads at Sweetgreen, and do yoga, and shop at Whole Foods if that's what you like. Because that stuff's fun. It's great, that's why it's so damn popular! Except kale. Kale just has a great marketing team. But I still pay to eat it quite willingly! I digress: do whatever it is in your neck of the woods that all the cool kids do, if you enjoy it - but I implore you: every now and again take a step back, and focus on what it is that makes you unique. Why has there never before been and will never again be somebody like you? The world needs all kinds - not simply clones of modern day pop culture icons. The world needs you.
So if you want to tap dance, tap dance. If you want to volunteer on the weekend rather than go clubbing, don't let anyone tell you differently. If you want to read at indie coffee shops but fight in cage matches on the weekend, pour your little Renaissance heart out. Stop trying to do what'll impress everybody else, and make yourself happy. And if that's ignoring everything I've said, and going back to your day to day life of just existing, go for it! Stay away from me, but go for it! Build a personality that you make a Pinterest board about, not one you've lifted straight from it.
I realise I sound like the writers of High School Musical, but screw the status quo, and anybody who tells you you're weird. Yeah, everyone's judgmental, but ignore them, because life's too short to not enjoy it as yourself. The world needs original people, and if you're weird, you're more likely to be remembered. Because you'll've had the gall to do what most people couldn't - be yourself.
More from the author: puttingtheworldtorights.com