05.03.13 Truth & Wisdom

The Importance of Being Original

BY Ashley Perez

Truth & Wisdom

When I was younger my mom used to tell me a story that would keep me giggling for hours on end. Like most stories that become part of our family rhetoric it was nothing special, but rather just a rare insight into what life was like for our parents when they were our age. You see there was this guy (don’t all great stories start this way) who had a crush on my mom and did everything in his power to impress her. The only problem was that he thought the best way to win her heart was to like everything that she liked. If she declared her love for the color purple, so did he. If she decided Motown was the best kind of music, so did he. And so on and so forth, until finally my mother grew so bored of him she was forced to break his little heart.

What’s so funny to me about my mom’s story is that I used to laugh and laugh about how silly this guy was for copying everything my mom said. As a 12 year old it was so obvious to me that this wasn’t the way to win someone’s heart, and yet as I grew up I fell right into that trap.

In middle school and high school, I spent my days desperately trying to pretend that I didn’t like school and was over life in general. The guys I liked seemed to be especially apathetic, loved listening to loud music and watching movies that I didn’t really understand. And so I followed suit. I changed who I was to become more valuable in someone else’s eyes.

College was no different. Luckily the guys I liked in college were much better influences on my life. They were active and passionate, and once again I pretended to be the same. Although most of these guys were real all-Americans, there were a few who weren’t worth my time, and for them I drank a little too much, cursed a little too loudly and fell back into a routine of whatevertude.

I would like to say that now as a self-actualized young woman I am no longer prey to changing myself to be liked, but I find it’s a struggle I still grapple with. It’s the little lies that get me in trouble, feigning interest in the hobbies and quirks of those who I admire. I find myself fighting against the instinct to change who I am so that someone— be it a boy, coworker, or a potential new friend will like me better for being more like them.

But here’s what I’ve realized: there’s a big difference between being open and being obsolete. When you’re open, you are ready to try new things, to expand upon the you that already exists as a separate entity with your own passions and goals. When you’re open, you’re discovering new parts of you, not covering what is already there. When you mask the real you in favor of what you think someone else wants you to be, you are no longer appealing, you’ve become obsolete. Obsolete because no one wants to love an exact copy of themselves, it’s boring. We want complements, not copies.

The difference is key, in a world that is desperate to change who you are, we must be open, not obsolete. It would be a waste of everything you are to become a copy of someone else. So be you to the fullest, and do it passionately.

Ashley, like many other 20-somethings, is trying to figure out how to be a classy, sassy woman of character in a 21st century society. She's definitely a Hannah, though she has some Shoshana-like qualities. An English teacher in South Korea by day, she moonlights as a lover of Dawson's Creek reruns by night. She's cooler than this bio makes her sound, which is why you should check out her blog, Boys are IDOTS and her website, www.twentyandto.com a guide to getting your life together in your 20s.  She also tweets @itsashleyperez


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