When I go on nights out, I hide a pair of flip flops in a bush outside the club. There, I said it. I’m pathetic with heels, and I can’t afford to spend a fortune riding round in taxis every night. So, when I’m ready to leave, I simply retrieve my flats from their hiding place and begin my comfortable journey home. It’s not cool, and to most people it’s probably quite strange (especially those who’ve witnessed it). But it’s me, it’s my choice and it’s my life, and if there’s one thing I’ll never be caught apologising for – it’s that.
I’ve spent approximately 95% of my life comparing myself to other people. Right now, I’m 21-years-old, which means that at a time when I should have been learning, growing and figuring out who I was as a person, I was doing nothing but attempting to mould myself into someone else. I was surrounded by people I’d try to look like, dress like, and act like. I’d laugh at jokes I didn’t understand, lie about what music and films I liked, and pretend I was happy. I wasn’t.
But I get it – that’s all a part of growing up. None of us are expected to have it all figured out during our teenage years and to have the audacity and the confidence to spread our wings in whichever direction we feel most comfortable. But when should we have it all figured out? What marks that turning point in our lives when we say ‘enough is enough’ and finally understand and embrace our true selves completely unapologetically?
For me, this year has been that turning point. A lot has changed in the last 12 months, and I’ve learnt a lot of valuable life lessons – about friendship, relationships, loss, pressure, equality and so much more. Some were positive and others tougher than I could even express in words, but each has helped me to see myself in the mirror clearer than I ever have done before.
I know now that I’m headstrong and perhaps a little too feisty for my own good, but I also cry at every Nicholas Sparks book I ever read – neither makes me too weak or too strong. I dance and sing (badly) to Shania Twain songs in the middle of supermarkets because I feel like it, I talk far too much (rubbish) because I can, and yes – I’m that girl diving head first into the bush at 2am in hot pursuit of my flip flops, because why the hell not?
If life was about conforming and doing things by a rule book, like I used to believe it was, I’d be failing every test put in front of me. But it’s not. It’s about individuality and happiness – and for that, I’m almost certain I’ve secured an A+. I have a new-found love for myself and I couldn’t be further from ashamed, embarrassed or sorry for that.
I read a quote recently that said: “Comparison is an act of violence against the self”. Summoning the ability to cut ties with comparison will inevitably happen for different people at different stages in their lives. It’s not necessarily about age or experience or anything else, but when it does happen, there simply isn’t a more powerful or exhilarating feeling.
The sooner you end your own personal violence against yourself by not trying to be something you’re not and revealing who you are, the sooner you can be truly happy and peaceful. And who knows: like me, you could become better acquainted with the most wonderfully interesting person you might ever meet – yourself.
Header image: Brian Dewey / Flickr.