I’ve always lived by this mantra that the most important thing to be in life is being yourself. When you’re showing your authentic self to the world, people will classify you as being “real”. Now, I’m not saying that’s the only reason why you should be yourself, I mean there are many other reasons, but the most important factor of it all is that when you know who you are and what you represent, everything else in your life becomes more clear. You know the important things to worry about in life, the relationships you have with people will be more real, and there just isn’t error for you to make mistakes because you just know better.
But it’s not easy to get to that point in life. My reinvention of myself was 2 years in the making, and even when life came crashing down on me, I had to start from scratch and reevaluate the new things that impacted my life.
But reinventing yourself isn’t impossible.
- First things first, throw out any unnecessary things that you feel like are weighing you down. A week ago, I had gone through a big box of old notebooks and journals and found a ton of things in there that I forgot I even had. Most of the things got thrown away because not only were they taking up so much space but some of those things were things I didn’t want to sit and look back on. Like, why would I want to remember all the times I was bullied in 6th grade in my 6th-grade journal? Why would I want to read about the things my own best friend made fun of me for having epilepsy in my 4th-grade journal? I just threw out anything that I knew that I didn’t want to see years in the future when I stumble upon it while going up to the attic of my house. After throwing out all these things that I kept for years, I couldn’t help but feel mentally “lighter” than before. There’s something about throwing old things away to make room for new things that feels like hope. It’s weird, but it makes sense.
- Revamp your hairstyle or fashion style. So, when I first met Obie, he rocked an afro. In a school where buzz cuts or waves or whatever that was in for guys, he had a little fro that made him stand out. At the end of 2013, he decided that with the little hair he had, he was going to grow out dreads. Officially in 2014, his hair finally locked, and three years later, he has long, almost mid-back length dreads. He always mentions the fact that getting dreads was the best decision he made because it changed something in him and being around him during this transition, I could sense the change in him too. People don’t realize that there’s some psychological reason in why people dye or cut their hair and somehow feel different. I know when I went blonde a couple of times, I felt like a completely different person; even when I went black I felt the same thing. There’s something about a new look in hair or wardrobe that gives you that extra boost to help you reinvent yourself completely.
- Go over what matters to you. If you were to ask me 5 years ago what matters the most to me, I would say how people perceive me and my friend’s judgment about me. 5 years later, I’m nothing like that anymore. When I was in the early stages of reinventing myself, I had a couple of people in my life who were dead weight to me. But because of my need to be there for people no matter how they treated me, it took longer than expected to completely eliminate those people out of my life. Instead of wanting approval from my friends, respect and support from my friends became what really mattered to me. Instead of worrying about what people thought of me, authenticity and honesty became what really mattered to me. As you grow older, you soon realize the things that you thought were so important in your life as a teenager was actually immature, baby shit that has no real impact on the world.
- Identity isn’t always positive things; embrace your negatives. There will be a time in your life where you don’t know where you fit in and that’s okay because it’s a learning experience. For awhile, I thought I was an extrovert because in my younger years I was one. Once I became a teenager, I realized just how much I was actually an introvert because I was always in my head. To this day, I’m very much always in my head, and I’m timid and shy in certain settings. These things are far from being positive things to identify with, but after I stopped trying to change that part of myself, I felt better. Being shy and quiet is something that will always be with me, but I’m also trying to not let it hinder my social experiences and interactions with people. Identity isn’t always positive things because no one is perfect. I think the want to be perfect is a negative identification within itself, to be honest.
- After reinventing yourself, don’t forget where you came from. In the midst of cleaning out my things last week, I stumbled upon my high-school yearbook. I looked through it for a few seconds and really thought about tossing it out because it represented a part of my life where I was severely depressed, suicidal, and lost with no hope in life. I saw all the people who were my “friends” at the time, I saw all the people who fucked me over, and all-in-all, I just had to ask myself if I’m just keeping this piece of shit just to be normal and say that I have my high-school yearbook. I took to Facebook to express myself, and the overwhelming responses that I got to keep it surprised me, actually.
The fact of the matter is that no matter how bad an experience was, it is always good to know where you came from, and how far you’ve come. The difference between my high-school yearbook and the other books I threw out is because my elementary school years didn’t make me the person I am today. My bad experience from high school made me want to reinvent myself into a better, kinder, smarter, wiser, and honest person. People who completely reinvent themselves usually do it so that they can forget the person that they once were. Sometimes, your bad experiences humble you. They remind you why it’s essential to be kind to others, why you are the way you are. Long story short, I decided to keep it. Maybe in the future, if I ever have kids of my own, I’ll show them that if I could overcome it, they can do.