When I was 16, I bought a pair of jeans that I couldn't afford.
But I had to have them. Because the girl I most looked up to rocked them, and I wanted to be just like Ellie. She looked svelte and sexy, kinda rocker-chic and so… confident.
So, I socked away those waitressing tips, and as soon as I could, I splashed on the pair of jeans that made me look… frumpy. Not svelte. Not sexy. And definitely not chic.
I felt stupid for two reasons:
- Wasting my hard-earned dough. And dammit, in my enthusiasm, I'd cut off the tags too fast!
- Trying to be a second-rate version of Ellie. Some ancient, inner part of me knew better—even as a teenager.
The thing was, I was sexy. In my own way. If you've ever heard of the old body-type calculator—it was big in the UK back then—I'm an hourglass, she's a column. Which really just means that I don't suit her type of jeans and she doesn't suit mine.
It's OK that we were different—but I didn't fully know it then.
In a world of blending in, of being "on-trend," of using the same hashtags, drinking the same cold-brew coffee, and brothing (if that's what the in-crowd does?!), the coolest thing you can possibly do is pause, think—and decide what suits you instead.
Here are a couple of ways to do that:
1. Consider what really makes you happy.
Being true to the real you is spiritually important—and it's practical too. A lot of people out there aren't being quite honest with themselves. And let me tell you, as a life coach, clients confess to me that they do all sorts of things simply because their peers, family, or friends do.
For instance, one person takes recreational drugs, another goes running even though he hates it, one woman is more promiscuous than she feels comfortable with, one person actually climbed Mount Kilimanjaro simply because a bossy colleague was doing it, and another only dates a certain type of person because of external influences.
Are you getting the full range here?
If you think that person who gets high on the weekends or is signed up for that marathon is the real deal who you need to imitate to be happy, you may well be dead wrong.
2. Take tips, not the total.
Receiving influence from our surroundings is natural—and it can be healthy. For example, you might fall in love with your friend Donna's barre class that she introduced you to, and that's great! You might like Tom's passion for local theater and find yourself going every few weeks. Fab! You might be totally inspired by your friend Tina's boho style and decide to add a tasseled bag to your summer wardrobe. Lovely!
Tips are great. Receive them with gratitude and an open mind. But following just one person or a specific, entire way of living? Nope. I guarantee it won't be the real you.
3. No one else is you, and that is your power.
Do you know who the real you actually is? It takes a lifetime to know for sure because we all evolve and change with time. If you feel disconnected from your inner inspiration, take a social media break, if you can. Spend a little more time alone. Remember what inspired you when you were a kid. This can only come from you. The irony? The more yourself you are, the more you'll actually inspire copycats of your unique way of being. That's OK! It's a compliment.
So know this: You're enough, just as you are. And you don't need to copy anyone or anything, ever. Ever. Because there's nothing cute about an ill-fitting lifestyle (or pair of jeans). No matter how cool the person rocking them seems to be.
Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!