“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self”
― Mr. Rogers
At some point, we’ve all been the kid at the elementary school playground or in the high school lunch room, desperately wanting to fit in.
It usually starts on the first day of school.
“Who do I sit with?”
“Who will be my friend?”
Now, there are some who have an easy and seemingly effortless time making new friends and finding cliques that they feel at home with.
However, many others have a very natural and very real struggle to find a place to belong.
Not wanting to feel like a loser
Being cool isn’t strictly an adolescent anxiety either.
Adults are equally afflicted
Whether it’s the number of bedrooms in your home, what kind of car you have,
the way you dress or even the way you think,many adults feel incredible pressure to portray an identity that’s deemed worthy by other people.
The internet is the biggest instigator of insecurity with carefully curated selfies, waist trainers and #relationshipgoals that can make you feel as if maybe your relationship isn’t beneficial if it isn’t Instagram-able
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to fit in, be accepted or liked.
They are all very natural and healthy desires.
But in this new millennium culture of fast fame and viral information, there seems to be an unprecedented pressure both to fit in and to stand out at all costs.
To be the strongest. Run the fastest. Be the sexiest. Be the slimmest and (somehow) the most voluptuous at the same time.
To be the richest and the flashiest. To be the trendiest. To go on better vacations than anyone. To have the most legendary marriage proposals.
You get the point…
We have set such unreasonable standards for ourselves that instead of accepting ourselves face value as we are, we seem to have collectively agreed that if perfection can’t be attained, then the internet illusion of perfection is just as good.
The result? A society that likes to show more than it can prove.
Style is desired more than substance.
Stuntin’ is now at an all time high.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
‘You Ain’t Gotta Lie’ is track 14, off of Kendrick Lamar’s album, “To Pimp A Butterfly” (perhaps you’ve heard of it).
The song is a cautionary funk tale that is reminiscent of Tupac’s “Do For Love”
both in groove and in theme.
Kendrick’s focus in this song is a friend who lacks self-esteem and who wants so desperately to fit in that he overcompensates with every uber-thug life stereotype (hustlin, guns, fast women).
As we say these days, Kendrick’s friend is CLEARLY not about that life.
Being a concerned homie, Kendrick appeals
“I can see insecurity written all on your face”
“…small talk. We know that it’s all talk
we live in the laugh factory everytime they mention ya name”
“you ain’t gotta try so hard”
So many people try sooooo hard to get attention. Be it in words or deeds they go to extremes to prove their greatness & worthiness to other people even if it means making themselves a laughing stock in the process.
This is what happens when you live an inauthentic life and your ego driven bark attempts to hide the feebleness of your bite.
You create an environment where others don’t trust you or take you seriously.
“Circus acts only attract those that entertain small talk.”
And sure, you may be able to hold the attention of a few, but chances are that whoever is in that small group aren’t the kinds of minds and personalities that you should want to be around to begin with.
Behind the mask. What makes you happy? What brings you personal fulfillment?
What inspires you? What frightens you? What makes you laugh? What makes you cry?
Embrace your physical uniqueness too.
Big nose. Small lips. Bow legged.Crooked smile. Freckles.
Are you a 6 foot woman? A 5 foot man?
That’s the good stuff. That’s where the gold is.
That’s who we really want to see. Free yourself from the burden of the masquerade.
You don’t have to dilute your natural beauty in order to gain acceptance.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul?”
Some people view changing yourself to fit in as a power play. As a means to get ahead socially, politically and financially.
But what is the point of compromising yourself for money if you can’t
have peace of mind when you go home?
Why lie or manipulate your way into positions of political power and social access if you can’t live with pride about how you got there?
Many seek to be Insta-famous. That’s cool. There’s nothing so terrible about going viral.
But why spend hours obsessing over makeup or pay money for superficial surgeries if after it’s over you still can’t appreciate who it is you see in the mirror?
Acquiring political positions and social influence are great.
But it shouldn’t come at the cost of losing yourself.
Accumulating things should never come via the compromise of your mind, your precious body, your spirit or or your integrity.
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet”
If you find yourself around people or in situations that
-don’t encourage you to be yourself
-stifle your potential to grow
-cause you to compromise your values,
Run As Fast as as you can!
Your individuality is precious and you should vigilantly protect it from being corrupted by those who are too superficial too celebrate it.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”
If your car isn’t the flyest, who cares?
If your clothes aren’t the trendiest, big beal!
If you don’t have the kind of commas and zeros in your bank account that are glorified by gold diggers and pop culture magazines, so what?
If you talk funny or have an unconventional look, congratulations! You’re an individual. No need to be ashamed.
Being popular is great and having “stuff” is nice, but the people who truly DESERVE your company and your friendship won’t disqualify you on materialistic merits.
“How many more of us are faking the facade? How many more of us are pretending to be something we’re not? Even better, how many of us will have the courage to be ourselves regardless of what others think?”
The truth is that some find it hard to be their true selves because they are embarrassed of who they are.
Remember that the cliche is true.
If you can’t love yourself; who you are and where you’ve come from, then you’ll be hard pressed to find true love and acceptance from others.
Everyone has their own unique origin, journey and destiny that can’t be duplicated.
Whether you’re from the Hood or the Hills
Bangladesh or Brooklyn
You owe it to yourself to leave your own unique mark on human history.
Your accent, hair, hands, mouth, eyes, skin, job, obstacles, sense of humor, mannerisms, interests, dis-likes are yours.
Your uniqueness is not a mistake.
It is a a pre-ordained miracle.
One that the world deserves to see everyday.