*Warning: Just a few little curse-words ahead!
It seems like the perfect recipe: a society that encourages individuality and the infinite list of possibilities for us to explore.
But start to consider the growing number of people on this planet, and the anxiety might set in.
As if the prospect of of “finding yourself” isn’t intimidating enough, what if when you finally reach the end of that road, your “you” is already taken?
How much of an individual can you be when you’re surrounded by 7.4 billion other people trying to be “them”? How many versions of each other can we be, and who’s is the best? It feels as if we’ve come to a place where we value individuality so much that we reject any notion of resembling someone else.
Newsflash: It is perfectly okay to be like someone else.
Hell, it’s more than okay to be like someone else because there is so much comfort and love in the spaces that include people that are just like us, that understand us.
In fact, I think the best way to “find yourself” is to try shit on—to try people on. When we see or encounter individuals and start to feel that burning or that fluttering in our chest that’s either envy or admiration, that stems from a much deeper place. We recognize ourselves, our desires, and who we wish to be within these people and either envy or admire them for having the courage be so—we want to do the same.
The next time you recognize that sense of wonder within yourself upon meeting someone, recognize that this person is most likely a kindred spirit, and certainly not someone to reject or compete against. Instead of automatically putting yourself in competition with someone who may or may not be a “better version” of you, meet them, befriend them, research them (if they’re someone famous), and try them on.
See what they do, what they practice, what they love, what sets their soul ablaze, and then go out and copy that, because those very same things may create that same magic within you. Better yet, you may find that you hate those things. The people and lifestyles you try on may be too tight, too loose, just not right, or perfect for you. Either way, you’re that much closer to finding you.
Finding yourself and what you love is so often as looked down upon as being a “follower” or a “copy-cat” (may as well use a preschool term for such a preschool concept, right?). But what’s the real harm in being similar to someone else if it’s natural and true to you, and you gain a brother or sister in the process?
For me, this anxiety mainly manifested in my decision to be a writer. Some nights I am every middle school girl that mistakes my first crush for true love and writes shit to my lover that pretty much follows: Roses are red/violets are blue/I don’t know a damn thing about poetry/but I really, really, really, really, really, really like you, as I fantasize about Carly Rae Jepsen coming on in his mom’s car as she drives us home from our first movie date and we totally have a moment.
Some nights I throw out the bullshit and let myself feel and feel and feel because I am Janne Robinson, and I’ve never been afraid of letting myself be, whatever that means in that moment. Some nights I might even be Charles Bukowski (but I’ll leave the hard liquor in his cabinet and stick with some Yerba Mate because I’m only 20 and will hopefully be needing this liver for while longer). I stack my soul’s words into their templates and see who fits. And I’ve found that on all of those given nights, they all fit—they all contribute to my healing and to my becoming.
Last week on a whim, I picked up Rupi Kaur’s new publication, Milk and Honey after having read a few of her works online, without any expectations. One out of four sections into the book, I experienced something that I never had with another’s writing before this. I felt this overwhelming desire to write; poems that I didn’t know I had inside of me came spilling out as if they’d been on the tip of my tongue for the past 20 years of my life.
So, I let them breathe, I let them flourish and become as they used my hand as nothing more than a vessel, a tool. As I read them back, they were clearly my writing, my experiences, my soul—writing that reflected me better than anything I’d written before—but they read like a Rupi Kaur poem, in formatting, in flow.
I’d reached a milestone in my writing, and my “me” was already taken. So what do you do—what did I do? Not a damn thing because it is a crime to tamper with beauty and art that naturally flowing, especially because of an ego. Thank you, Rupi, for introducing to me a style and a flow that allows my “me” to flourish because it has allowed my poetry to become something it never was capable of being before this.
As much as we are a collection of all of the people and things we’ve ever loved, we are a collection of all of the people that we’ve ever wanted to be. So what happens to individuality? Does originality die?
Because one hundred people can wear the same outfit, and not a single one will look the same. Because one hundred pairs of humans can share a love, and not one of those loves will be the same.
Because the templates, the lives, the personalities, the passions we try on only have meaning when we put them on. There is a finite amount of ways to be, but there are currently 7.4 billion different ways to be you, and no template can take that away.
So try someone on, and don’t be afraid when they fit, and don’t be afraid when they don’t.
Author: Anisa Flowers
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Doug Robichaud/ Unsplash