How many of us have suffered through season upon season of Breaking Bad and still diligently followed the hit TV series just because we wanted to seem cool? I did. Fitting into skin-tight jeans was a trip to hell and back. Yet, I bought two of those just because they were in vogue (certainly not because they looked good).
From the time I began grasping the dynamics of urban middle class society, there was an urge to belong–somewhere, anywhere. Especially in a peer group that everybody else looked up to. When I was in high school, I wanted to hang out with people who listened to Backstreet Boys (yes, Backstreet Boys) and read Harry Potter. In college, there was music I did not understand or even appreciate, but it stayed on my playlist. This wish to belong did not just stop here, it became my shadow constantly monitoring my moves whether I fit in or not.
Familiar much? Welcome to the world of not knowing who you are and where you are headed.
In the pursuit of chasing the uber-cool, little did I realise I was missing out on things that mattered, that could shape my personality. I missed out on discovering my strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, abilities, talents and so much more. My days were ruled by saying and doing things I did not connect with or even approve of, in some cases. Nevertheless, I actively pushed myself to be part of it. I recall vividly, the sleepless nights I went through simply because I felt like a misfit. The effort to be cool corroded my confidence.
Take it from me, adhering to an image doesn’t just eat away at your self-esteem but is also tedious and exhausting. It used to be an ordeal waking up every morning and donning the mask of a person admired and envied by all. It was almost as if I had a split personality. A constant battle between the real me and the wannabe me left me suffocated, befuddled even. It was an endless struggle to find myself–a feeling of inadequacy that would ultimately translate into desperate attempts to fit in.
In the pursuit of chasing the uber-cool, little did I realise I was missing out on things that mattered, that could shape my personality.