‘The hardest thing you’ll have to do is be someone else’Ashton Esther
So I’ve always been a ‘goodie two shoes’. The person in class who doesn’t want to disobey the rules, is aware that even if everyone else is doing it, the moment she does she’ll get caught. The one whose far from what everyone brands as ‘rebellious’ or a ‘free spirit.’ I’ve come to love this girl though. She may not be the most spontaneous but she’s great at organised activities!
Haha, the point is it’s been a long journey to accept myself – especially this aspect of myself that is polite and wants to follow the rules & regulations of whatever space she finds herself in. It’s been a long journey primarily because I’ve been heavily concerned with what other people think of me. I don’t think it takes you too long once you’ve met me to recognise this and what has been perceived in the past as a ‘nun-like’, ‘frigid’, ‘serious’ demeanour. All those words have affected me for a while because it suggested that I was incapable of letting loose, letting my hair down and having fun. It always felt like certain people wanted to see me be ‘bad’ for once, to see me angry, to witness me swear, to see me do something they deemed provocative. And
I’ve never fully understood why.
But today, moments spent in reflection I had an interesting thought – it’s not just a me thing, I think there’s an entire culture dedicated to the ‘good girl gone bad’ trope. I think we’ve been exposed to the idea that a good girl who transforms into a vixen of some sorts is more interesting, adventurous and exciting. I’ve succumbed to this aesthetic several times and done stuff I didn’t really want to do just to prove to myself and others that I can be a ‘bad b’ too, that I am capable of having fun, that I’m not ‘nun-like’ at all but a young, vivacious, confident woman.
But all of that was so paper-thin and if I’m honest a meaningless waste of my time. Time spent following highly subjective definitions of what being ‘confident’ was. Time spent building this persona so people wouldn’t think I was boring, or too polite or too ‘good.’ What is good anyway? Isn’t that always relative to people’s personal standards? Because as far as I’m concerned, only God is good and though I believe I was created in His image, I’m beautifully flawed and that’s okay. I’m not perfect and I never will be. There’s a freedom that comes from finally ridding myself of this expectation to be ‘Tolu, the good girl.’ Or to let people see my ‘bad’ side in order to justify that I’m down with the vibes. So either way, I’ve chosen not to fit into an aesthetic but to remain authentic to be the me God and now I know me to be.
The me who finds museums fun and who loves to travel. The me who is a proud nerd and loves to research and write and learn. The me who finds documentaries calming. The me who loves to dance and find life at any party. The me who is a joy to be around. The me who is incredibly charismatic. The me who is focused and determined and ambitious. The me who doesn’t have to prove her worth to anyone.
I think this aesthetic is extremely damaging because it tells young girls that to be ‘desired’ or ‘deemed interesting’ they have to completely rid themselves of things that make them them in order to be accepted. The standards of desirability have always been skewed because well, patriarchy. And that goes for both women & men. We’re constantly fed with images of what it means to be a likeable woman or what it means to be an influential man but quite rarely are we truly encouraged to simply be ourselves, to simply be authentic. Because even the ‘be yourself’ aesthetic has *yourself that is easily digestible for others in the fine print.
I guess I’m getting to a place where I’m tired of letting certain thoughts and perceptions about me restrain me. I’m tired of shrinking myself. I’m getting more and more content with who I am – all sides of me and getting more comfortable with the fact that not everyone will experience all sides, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, that’s welcomed because I can’t be all things for all people – it’s impossible and I will surely lose all of myself in the process. I just want to be Tolu, a beautiful child of God who radiates joy and exists to bring Him praise, glory and thanksgiving every day of my life.
Free yourselves of the labels people have placed upon you. Free yourself of the labels you’ve placed upon you. Get to know yourself, your true self and accept whoever that person may be. A person that isn’t defined by what they do, their gender, their race – but rather who they are.
So, who are you?
‘Here’ by Alessia Cara. I remember going for my first concert, an Alessia Cara concert in Brixton with two of my bezzie-mates. What a glorious time – remember when we could go outside? LOL, I joke, I joke, I kid, I kid – this lockdown is all for our own good. Anyways, I remember going for this concert and being so happy Ms Cara took my concert-virginity because her album, particularly the first song I heard by her; ‘Here’ meant so much to me at the time – and it still does.
Like my caption at the time said, that song reminded me that you didn’t have to like everything or behave a certain way just because everyone else was and because it appeared like ‘the thing or way to be.’ Four years later, this message still resonates with me and has reached further depths in my heart. The road to authenticity and true confidence and love of self is ongoing but lately, it’s been quite clear that the Holy Spirit is adamant we focus on it as part of this year of refinement. I’m no longer complaining because it’s so worth it. So without further ado, here’s ‘Here’ by Alessia Cara – it captures the message of individuality and authenticity in the face of discomfort so perfectly. I hope you enjoy it as much as I’m about to as I revisit her entire album because…what a time!
Peace & Love,