Inventing Yourself vs. Finding Yourself

by Katya Polo

Social interaction and basic relationship dynamics have evolved into something that none of our parents could have prepared us for. We are all standing at the edge of a social revolution. And with individuality seemingly slipping right underneath us, it raises the question of not when we are going to fall, but how soon.

That is not to say that our experiences as young adults are that much different from those who raised us. Heartbreak throughout the generations has not been diluted of its pain, and laughter, generally speaking, still sounds the same. But while those experiences still lift and burden us the way history will remind us, they have been drastically enhanced with the helpful hands of modern technology and social networking.

We do not escape our bullies and high school tormentors after we graduate because social protocol insists that we keep them as Facebook friends. We cannot enjoy our dinner at a 3 star restaurant because Amy just posted her STK dinner on Instagram. We are constantly being judged, and locking ourselves in our homes away from the general public, will not keep us hidden the way it could have a couple of decades ago.

And this is where the problems arise. We are in constant competition; a battle of the sexes, a battle of the bank accounts, a battle of the DIY/origami/Pinterest fiend house wives. Our perceptions of our own lives become involuntarily compared to the lives of others; so much so that we find ourselves shaping and molding our own passions to fit nicely on display for the public. You will be surprised at how many people with aesthetically pleasing lives are robbed of their own thoughts and find themselves incapable of ever experiencing any genuine satisfaction.

So what do we do with these facts? Of course, we all just want to be accepted. But what good is a sustainable relationship with the public eye if we have to sacrifice our romance with ourselves? It is simple. We have to find ourselves, not invent ourselves.

But what's the difference?

Inventing Yourself

Inventing yourself is basically taking what you are and molding it to please everyone but yourself. It sounds absolutely absurd, but at some point, everyone falls into this trap. The fact is, you cannot please everyone and as much as you try, you never will. You are guaranteed to piss off just as many people by being a phony as you are by being yourself. Staying true to your own mind and your own passions seems like a much more reasonable way to pass the time.

There is a fine line between faking our way through life, smothering the interests of others, and living amid your own ideas and the mistakes and triumphs that follow. You will never know the joys that accompany greatness if those achievements were not your own. Examples range anywhere from entrepreneurial ventures to new-found obsessions with exotic cuisines.

You cannot watch someone dwell in their own passion; carefully observe them exert their own souls into an idea, and then incorporate those ideas into your own life because you seek the attention and praise they were given for it. They did not seek any feedback; they were doing what they loved and believed in. You will not receive any praise or glory for doing something without heart—it does not work that way.

Think for a second about the recent Chipotle trend. Now, I have got absolutely nothing against the business and will not bash or praise the quality of their food—I simply do not care for it. But I know many people who do. I also know many people who say they do, simply because it is the “thing” right now. I know people who never craved a taco or a burrito in their life, and all of a sudden I am getting text messages about how their immediate health depends on a Chipotle run.

It is one thing to experience new things and our reactions to them and consequently develop our own personal love stories in accordance. It is all a part of life. But I will bet almost anything that most people who fall in love with these trends only experience the infatuation they receive from the attention they get and the warmth of being a part of a crowd.

And it would be wrong to swim in the topic of trends and phonies and not touch upon the “Hipster Syndrome.” I will make it quick and simply splash around the subject.

The modern “hipster” bashes everything mainstream. He lives to defend his ideas, taste in music, apparel, and (similar to gaining a life in a Mario Kart game) thrives off of every encounter where he receives a befuddled look after explaining his love for the band “The Weed Whackers.” (Not an actual band, do not bother Googling it.) Point is, they love being different.

Unfortunately for them, their differences have created a culture that has, well, gone mainstream. Now, this is not an article to belittle hipsters, or any other cultures for that matter. This is to reprimand everyone who cannot think for themselves. If you claim (or do not claim, because that would be ant-hipster protocol) to be a hipster, you have invented yourself to be one.

Being different is encouraged, because once you are one with yourself and your own passions and goals in life, you are different by default. Do not defend a band for the sole purpose of liking a band that no one else does. Do not bash one for the same reason either. If you adjust your personality and find that it abides by a specific set of unwritten rules (hipster being merely an example), then you are the label you hide under and nothing more.

Finding Yourself

Listen to nobody’s voice but your own. Do not claim your undying love for a band because you heard one of their songs once and everybody at the time seemed to like it. Experience it on your own terms, in your own way. You have to observe your own reactions before you acknowledge anyone else’s.

Finding yourself is not about creating an image or just finding a niche in your own life that you could learn to adapt to. It is not about uncovering hidden talents and figuring out ways you can utilize them to secure attention. It is not about being exposed by your best friend’s ideas 24 hours a day and paraphrasing those ideas when you are without them.

It is about learning who you are and how you feel about it. It is about finding your own passions and holding onto them for dear life. It is okay to become more than acquainted with your friends’ ideas and their perceptions on life. But there is a difference between sharing ideas and taking them. Bring your own opinions to the table. Separate the voices in your head: the voices from the public and the voice that is your own. If you think you love something, find reasons that justify it. Question if the things you love are really the things your heart races for, as opposed to the things your heart admires the ideas of.

Figure it out. And keep in mind: you can get trapped in finding yourself, but you cannot get lost. There are no right or wrong answers. You are who you are and you never have to make excuses or apologize for it. If you are true to yourself, if you learn how to be passionate and dedicated to your own beliefs, everything else will fall into place. All we can do in life is just be, and with a little bit of honesty and self-discovery, we can find what makes us Elite.

Kathy Polo | Elite.