“Do your homework, go online, visit every museum, and intern. You just need to have a love for what you’re doing. It’s not about thinking that is it the cool thing. It’s about really believing in it.”
- Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue
It’s a cliche - but everyone is told to “be true to yourself” or simply to just “be yourself” at some point (probably around the time of high school) but it can be challenging because who even is “yourself” yet?
With senior year quickly ending, it is easy to put it this way - you do not truly learn what it means to be yourself until the experience is almost over. There is a sudden realization that your situation now is, most likely, much different from the one you entered with in high school because you actually did learn to be yourself. What exactly does this mean?
It means you have a better idea of what your hobbies and interests are; you know which sports are more enjoyable and fulfilling for you; you have had more experiences in dealing with crucial situations; and that you have learned who your genuine friends are because throughout all these changes they remained alongside you, or maybe you even picked up a few new ones along the way. In the end, after these four long (or quick) years, you have molded into a person that represents the real, authentic you.
It may sound overdone or cheesy, but subconsciously, you actually do learn how to be yourself; however, it was probably not a smooth discovery. High school is not what is depicted on t.v. or in shows and movies. It is not full of overdramatized Mean Girls situations and it is not necessarily as entertaining as High School Musical (which is a little disappointing because who doesn’t remember the soundtrack like the back of their hand?).
The high school experience differs for everyone and sometimes it is much better to sit back and watch these unrealistic depictions of high school and be thankful for the one you have. The experience you were given is not as entertaining or theatrical as those portrayed on t.v., so it is evident to try your hardest to create an experience that will be memorable for you and that it will be one you will be proud of. And by doing so, you must depict nothing but what truly represents who you are and to fill your time doing things that will ensue happiness so that at the end of the day you can reflect and think to yourself that your experience was better than any high school depiction on t.v. or in books.
Imagine spending high school doing things that you involuntarily wanted to do, whether it was a sport, club, activity, or anything that appeared remotely interesting. Maybe it was just to simply try it or it was influenced by friends - if it does not appeal to you by the end then take the opportunity to look into pursuits that fascinate you. Otherwise you would have spent time on something that does not interest you as much as another activity that could have been valuable to you or had the potential to be valuable to you.
The idea of beginning something new is intimidating and even difficult because you may find that those around you do not have the same interest, but that should not suppress your desire to pursue it. It is never too late to begin something new because you could find yourself wildly passionate about it and even talented at that interest you were once afraid to persue. It is easier to then to “be yourself” when you are happily occupying your time with hobbies, sports, or activities that you truly enjoy. If it means having to take on something new by yourself it is worth the shot because while pursuing those interests you find yourself surrounded by people who are similar to you, which then enriches the experience altogether.
Take it for instance, as close friend of mine quit a sport he was committed to, even after being a remarkable asset to the team, because he did not find joy in it anymore. Although the decision was difficult, he knew that continuing would only lead to a built hatred for the sport and he also wanted to create more time to pursue cinematography. And now you may wonder if it was the right choice? I would say so because now he is planning on majoring in cinematography and got accepted into a college that ranks high when it comes to film studies.
You can only learn to “be yourself” if you allow yourself to take on challenges and chances without being concerned about what the critics will say. It is harder to mold yourself based on societal norms than it is dropping your fears and taking a courageous step towards what you want.