who are you trying to be, girl?

an ode to external validation

who is you, Chiron?

I asked myself,
who are you trying to be, girl?
and she said
no one, just you

Who are you trying to be, girl? This is a question I always ask myself, to keep myself in check maybe. Tife, who are you trying to be? Be yourself, girl. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. A lot harder than people make it seem. It rolls off everyone’s tongue; ‘just be yourself.’ When you’re nervous; just be yourself. When you’re under pressure; just be yourself. When you don’t know what to do; just be yourself. When you don't know who you are; just be yourself. There comes the problem. Who are you? As illustrated very nicely by the above gif from one of my favourite movies, Moonlight, WHO IS YOU, CHIRON? The universal question.

Like I said earlier, being yourself is really hard, harder than it sounds. It is hard to figure out who ‘yourself’ is, so you can proceed to effortlessly being that person. I think one of the reasons I find it hard is because we live on the earth and not in a vacuum. We are influenced by everything. We are born a blank canvas (apparently) and since then everyone and everything we have ever looked at, touched, loved or talked to, has left their respective impression on us (there is no scientific proof of this I just made it up). Sometimes I ask myself whether I ‘am’ who I am because of someone else. Do I like what I like because that person likes it? If so does that mean I don't actually like it? I don't know if that makes any sense. Okay, here’s a really superficial scenario of me trying to be myself via a short screenplay:

Am I who I am or just who I am trying to be? Is who I am trying to be the same as who I am? LORD, I AM JUST TRYING TO BE WHO I AM, WOW. I studied this interesting sociologist once who said that we are all just actors, actively presenting ourselves to the world, I kind of believe him. We are putting on a show for everyone who walks past us to see; to like or to not like, to review. We put on a good show so we can get a good review. So we are all trying to be someone. That makes it sound really awful like we are all pretenders, trying to be someone that we are not, but truly, a lot of us are just trying to be ourselves, or who we think we are, or who we want to be. The point is that we are always trying, so being ‘yourself’ can’t be as easy as it sounds because who even is that anyway?

 Trying to be yourself while also rejecting external validation is a whole other ball game that I am still trying to master. It’s not just ‘be yourself’ nope, that’s not enough, it’s also ‘stop caring what other people think of you’. What is this language? Where can I learn it please? Seriously, I try everyday not to care what people think of me (I really started from the bottom with this self esteem stuff, I have gotten pretty far, give me a round of applause—wait no don't, I don't feed on validation from external sources, SORRY). I hope my little screenplay adequately depicts this daily inner struggle. Not caring what people think doesn’t come as naturally to me as I want it to (or as I would like people to think it does *there I go again with caring what people think* *this is a space for honesty after all*). I literally have to hammer this idea into my head with a questionnaire addressed from me to me. Tife, are you doing this for validation from others? If so pls delete it. But this is really hard because after all we live on earth and not in a vacuum. We are humans; we want other humans to think we are cool sometimes. Probably up until two years ago, everything I had ever done in my entire life had been for validation from someone other than me. I work hard to get good grades because I want people to think ‘wow that’s amazing you’re so smart omg’. I worked hard because I wanted my parents to be able to brag about me to their friends, who doesn’t? One time in year 9, I bought new trainers specifically for non-uniform day because trainers made you cool back then. I probably only took my first steps as a baby because I knew someone would say ‘good girl’ at the end, right? 

To this day when I try to be myself, to wear what I want, listen to the music I like, feel how I feel, I always ask myself, is this me or is this who I am trying to be? Boy, I have been in the education system for nearly fourteen years and this is by far the most confusing question I have ever come across. Even as I type this I am asking myself: Tife, are you going to publish this post because you actually want to, or because you want people to think you are the cool, deep girl with the edgy poetry blog who is really articulate and has lots of deep stuff to say about the human condition and stuff?

There is a quote from this song, Wildfire, by Laura Marling: ‘Wouldn't you die to know how you’re seen? Are you getting away with who you’re trying to be?’

Maybe I should stop trying to be myself and I should just let myself be (see what I did there? Yes, very clever.) Yes, I spend ages compiling outfits because I think it is fun and fulfilling. Yes, I like to post pictures of myself with an obnoxious smile because I think I am cute and it requires minimum effort. Yes, I like the sound of Jazz singers, even though I only know one Nina Simone song. No, I am not embarrassed (anymore). Yes, I am quiet when you first meet me. Yes, I am okay with this and everything else. Yes, I like myself a lot.


*I haven’t written non-fiction in a while so I am very rusty. I apologise if this post sounds like I just vomited words through my fingers. Actually, I revoke my apology because that is exactly what I did*

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