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Saturday, July 16, 2016

It Is Hard to Be Yourself

It is really difficult to be yourself. Or maybe it's just difficult to be MY self.

I feel like the people I've met at college fall into these neat little boxes--the carefree artist, the reserved academic, the ambitious preprofessional, the inebriated frat star, the boisterous clown. I find myself at the nexus of a lot of these groups, always on the outskirts of their fun and never quite invited in. I'm either too boring or too wild or too lazy or too uptight or too unfunny at any given time to any given person. I feel like other than my family, I don't really have anyone who makes me comfortable being my full self. I don't mean to cast aspersions on my friends who appear to fall into these boxes--and I recognize how tremendously unfair it is for me to categorize these people so narrowly--because I know they're not trying to change me. But it's inherent that when you're hanging out with seven of your friends and all seven of them are in sync and you're not there with them, you're gonna feel some pressure to be different.

I guess what I want to know is how I can feel contented with who I am and not feel like it's too much or not enough.

The artists make me worry that I'm too mainstream when they come to class in big flowing skirts and cool vintage clothes, and I'm wearing an outfit plucked straight off a mannequin from the Gap. The academics make me feel like a burnout when they spend their Friday nights holed up in the library, and I stay up till 3am, bouncing from party to party with my music and film friends. The preprofessionals make think that I haven't done enough for my future when they land internship after internship, where my resume lays mostly blank. The frat stars make me feel like a square when they do five shots in a row or have one-night stands, and I quietly explain that I don't drink or do drugs or sleep with strangers. The clowns make me feel exceedingly boring when they get a big laugh in our motley crew of friends, and my jokes fall flat.

I just don't want to feel like I'm listening to the wrong music or wearing the wrong clothes or watching the wrong movies. I want to feel like people want me around and not like I'm this strange passenger who stole aboard their cargo ship moments before launching into the sea.

That sounded weird as hell, but I'm going with it.

I think the worst part about these feelings is that sometimes, I know EXACTLY who I am. When it comes to my career, I know what I want and where I want to go. But all of that gets muddled when I hang out with people whose personalities seem a lot more defined, or at least recognizable. Embarrassingly, I feel like I can't even recognize myself sometimes.

I guess the point of me writing all this is to say that one of my goals for my next year of college--and all the years to come in my life, I suppose--is to get better at being myself in front of other people. Going to a school like USC, being in a program like the pop music program, living in a house full of film majors--I'm surrounded by unique individuals all the time, and somehow, that has always made me feel like I'm standing out wrong (which just situationally makes no sense). I'm going to embrace all aspects of my personality: be loud when I feel like being loud, shutting up when I feel introspective and quiet, cracking jokes when they come to me, writing when I'm inspired, and being the odd patchwork person that I am. The artist, the academic, the preprofessional, the frat star, the clown. (Okay, maybe I'm not much of a frat star, but you get my point.)

And if you've ever felt these feelings, if I've explained them in a way that makes them sound familiar to you, then I urge you to do the same. Spend the next academic year of your life without superfluous filters. As long as you're not hurting anyone, you should be allowed to do pretty much whatever you want. So, I guess, figure out what that is, and then go do it.

Talk soon. xo

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