October 22, 2022

Welcome to being “Authentic”—and Newsflash: we don’t need Influencers to tell us How.

I am finding myself being especially irked by multiple things that have not always caused this heightened feeling of exasperation for me.

I don’t know why I am so annoyed, really. I’m even irritated that these issues annoy me at all. You feel me?

Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s the constant censorship of anything and everything. Maybe it’s even a new kind of “midlife crisis,” but on an awareness level—a “what the heck is wrong with the world” awareness.

All these so-called influencers have been enticing us to buy their lifestyle products, detox drinks, and fashion lines. They give us tours of their posh places. Then, all of a sudden, they experience some kind of epiphany and instead try to sell us the exact opposite of that. Suddenly it’s cool to not keep up with the Jones’, with the ever-changing fashion trends, to follow the next shiny object. WTF?!

Oh, so currently it’s trendy to shop at thrift stores, or in your own closet, or to just “do you.” It’s trendy to listen to music on cassette tapes with a Walkman, to take pictures with an old camera that uses actual film rolls. Wow! So, everything regular people have already been doing this entire time (minus maybe the Kodak film) is now okay, says the influencer.

Maybe by adopting previous generations’ pop-culture items, younger people are trying on a part of our collective former identity…but I am not sure this is accurate, because they still make it seem like we have no clue about any of it, even though we have already “been there, done that.”

Dude! Welcome to the Club of Authenticity! Authenticity is not new. People have been living that way for quite some time. Except they have never needed the green light of a public personality to feel better about it. Thrift stores have been my go-to ever since I started buying my own clothes; it’s a different form of hand-me-down and I love it! It puts a full stop to what’s trendy and allows you to find your true style without being forced to look like a copy of every other person—because every mall store sells the same type of fashion-trending items, which is not great if you are looking for “normal” clothing, but all you find are shirts cut in half.

Yes, I sound like a complete old maid. I don’t care, really. It’s fun to see my kids wearing things I wore as a teenager and think, “see, I told you I was cool” and maybe, maybe for a moment they would agree. But how authentic are you when influencing people to do one thing and then completely turn around, asking them to do the opposite? Yes, times change, tastes changes, fashion changes, everything changes, but can we believe you? Will you change your mind yet again, because you are chasing the next shiny object? Is that authentic or just manipulative (and lucrative for you)?

Our youth want to save the planet (I’m am 100 percent with you on this and have been since my teenage years), but at the same time Gen Z shops at Shein. Nobody is perfect, I know (raising my hand in full admission), but if you are looking for cheap clothes, then give life back to pieces by thrifting. This throwaway culture mentality is certainly not helping our overstuffed landfills and plastic oceans. You want to be accepted for who you truly are—we all do—but you constantly seek the spotlight as someone who’s “different.” Well, what do you want? To be part of the crowd or constantly praised for standing out?

We would all be walking zombies if we agreed on everything at all times! Without differences, this world would not evolve, because why change anything if we are all in agreement? Our differences make us unique and life interesting. Differences are not the same as acceptance, I understand that. Yes, we most definitely need to raise awareness about acceptance, but that includes acceptance on all sides, not just from people who have more years on their shoulders. People grew up in different times and have been shaped by the events of that time. You cannot just strip them of personal experiences just because you disagree with their perspective. Have you asked them why they believe what they do, or have you just forced your own beliefs on them?

This is all to say: why do I have to keep up with you? Why can’t you keep up with me? What is wrong with being myself if you are allowed to be yourself? Why are we only considered “cool” when some influencer or celebrity rediscovers an older generation’s habit, hobby, or way of living? Why do we look toward famous personas to validate our own way of living? Why do we only feel accepted when outsiders label things as trendy? Why do we wait for celebrities to give the thumbs up on things before admitting to others that we have been doing that thing all along?

Even Hollywood is remaking all sorts of “classic” movies, because there are messages in them that still hold true today. Filmmakers want to reconnect people with those types of stories for a reason.

If old is today’s new, and people can embrace previous decades, then why can’t we apply that same mentality to people?

We are so disconnected as a society, because each generation believes they are the ones in the right and they will loudly proclaim their opinions, but very few are sitting down and respectfully listening to each person’s story perspective, and reasons for their actions. We can only understand one another if we are willing to listen and learn. It’s give and take. Life itself is like going to school every day, and we can all learn and upgrade our thinking and actions to build a better and more authentic tomorrow.

Here is my wish:

Stop looking for your own identity in others.

Stop looking for validation from people who can’t truly relate to you.

Its fine to be inspired and strive for a better future, but don’t attach all of your hopes and dreams to seemingly famous people. They don’t even know you; they don’t walk in your shoes. You are one of a kind! Your DNA is uniquely yours! Your time on this earth is a speck of dust. Make the most of it while you can, while you are here. Live your life the way you want to (but don’t be selfish and ignorant), not how society dictates it. Don’t expect things to be handed to you. Work for the life you want. Spend time by yourself and with your own thoughts. Find out who you are apart from social media and societal norms. Find out what you truly enjoy and like to do outside of your friend group. Be kind. Give back. Be honest. Be yourself.

The world is a better place because you are here. So, create, contribute, and connect. Leave it better than the way you found it. Stop being “a copy of a copy of a copy.” Be a creator!

Join the club of authenticity.

Read 4 Comments and Reply

Read 4 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Antje Arnold  |  Contribution: 9,795

author: Antje Arnold

Image: Laura Chouette/Unsplash

Editor: Catherine Monkman