What I would’ve told my younger self: It’s okay to just be you

I wish my younger self knew her creativity and uniqueness was wrapped in her individuality.

Being yourself is a superpower.

Allowing yourself to just be you is a gift. It allows you to make decisions that fit your narrative, wear what you want and also allow you to live life to the fullest.

Middle school identity crisis

Growing up, especially in middle school, I always felt like I was trying to create a narrative about myself that wasn’t true or was trying to fit in.

I knew I wasn’t a popular kid, never was, but I always tried to make sure I stood in good with them so they wouldn’t talk about me, or pick on me. I always ensured to have the latest designer fits, so they couldn’t call me poor.

One time, I recall getting a pair of knock-off Minnetonka boots for Christmas because my mom didn’t think it mattered. I went back to school after Christmas break and heard my classmates talking about the boots and how if they didn’t have the label under the bottom, they were fake. I felt insecure because I knew my boots were not the real thing, they were a dupe. A dupe, I refuse to wear ever again because I didn’t want to be like the kids, my classmates were teasing.

They even went as far as to check underneath people’s boots to see if they had dupe versions on. I remember going home that day and being so upset with my mom because she got me these “fake Minnetonka Moccasin boots”. Now they’re not even popular and the same kids who were teasing others about the boots they got, are the same kids who only got those boots for Christmas and nothing else. How did I know that? They only wore those boots for the rest of the school year and you could see the boots peeling because they ONLY wore those boots even during Michigan’s snow storms.

That experience overall taught me to be grateful and to see the bigger picture. It was only my mom and I growing up, alongside my grandma and we weren’t rich in any way but my mom always tried her best to make sure I had everything I needed or wanted. When I asked, normally she did put me in the latest trends like UGG, North Face and Hollister. That time, she just didn’t know that Minnetonka was the hot ticket. Overall, my mom always provided for me and I never really wanted anything. So why did I let some kids, who I know now didn’t come from the same background as me dictate how I treated my mom, what I wore, and what I deemed acceptable?

It was because I was an insecure 12-year-old who didn’t know myself, was afraid to just be myself and was ungrateful.

Materialistic high school blues

By high school, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with all the latest trends. Some people just had more money than I did.

My high school was different than my middle school. It was some of the same kids from my middle school but this time kids were wearing high-end fashion.

The dress code was also more strict as well.

By this point, I was most likely having another identity crisis. I wanted to be this person who wore Supreme, vintage clothing and whatever everybody else was not wearing. I wanted to be “different” and not like the others. Looking back at it now, it could’ve been me also developing my own identity.

The only situation I recall from high school that made me feel super insecure was when I begged for a Betsy Johnson bag that these girls let me know it just still wasn’t enough.

At the time, Betsy was popular…

A girl at my school had a high-end designer bag that was not like my Betsy at ALL. It was the same colors, but my Betsy was a tad bigger and had a different design.

I sat in math class, with the bag I begged to get thinking I was doing something, and here go two girls snickering to my left. The girl goes, “Is that supposed to be an MCM bag?”. Mentally, I wanted to cry because I hated being outed and being the class joke but I just shook my head and said nothing.

Another girl in my class did stand up for me and said something along the lines of, “It’s cute it’s Betsy Johnson”. But of course, I never wore my Betsy again to school, only on the weekends.

Possible progress because middle school Chandra may have just tossed it in the closet like she did her dupe Minnetonka boots.

As high school went on I learned to stop caring about what people were saying so much and wanted my own trends. I literally went into a tom-boy era. I wore baggy jeans during the weekends, windbreakers, and Vans. I owned a Thrasher backpack by senior year and wanted to be like the cool boys who listen to Travis Scott and A$ap Rocky. That’s when I also developed this “I don’t give a f*** attitude and edge”. By college, I was most likely insane and into Clueless fashion though.

To this day, I still like Supreme, Travis Scott, A$ap Rocky and Clueless fashion. That’s because I realized it’s okay to like what you like and own it as a 23-year-old.

Why being yourself matters

I don’t think I am the only one, who feels grade school is one of the worst experiences in an adolescent’s life. From peer pressure, self-discovery, family trauma and all. It’s hard to figure out who you are.

That’s why, in your 20s it’s the perfect time to sit, process, and start living the life you desire.

Throw away the pains of grade school and adapt to your individuality. It’s important to do that because in this life, you don’t get do-overs, second chances and an opportunity to slow down.

One of the biggest things, I wish I told my 12-year-old self is it’s okay to wear those dupes. It’s not going to be the end of the world and do you really need the validation from another 12-year-old?

It also matters because everyone is made uniquely, we are not all meant to think the same, act the same, or dress the same. If everyone tapped into their own individuality, the world would be colorful and unique.

How to be yourself

The first step in being yourself is understanding who you are.

Think about your upbringing, how does it make you feel? Whether it’s good or bad, decide if you’re going to allow it to dictate your life or if are you going to grow from it and expand.

Then consider the things you like, and what you don’t like. Think about the people around you, the type of music you like, the type of lifestyle you want to live.

Deep down, we always know the kind of life and person we want to be. It just takes a brave individual to tap into their superpower to bring it out.

Being yourself is not easy

I would be lying if I said being yourself was easy. It’s one of the hardest things to do in this life because once you tap into your individuality you realize everyone else is the same.

You most likely will seem “weird” and many people may not understand you.

I enjoy it because it blocks people out of my life who are meant to be or don’t align with me.

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