Original Copy

Throughout life, one of the most important lessons that can be taught to someone is to be unashamedly themselves.  It is emphasized at every church retreat, school assembly, and even on the field/court.  The people that are confident in themselves are people we less confident humans look up to.

Within the past couple years, I have noticed this popping up more often in schools and in the media.  Perhaps this is just because I have become more aware of myself and I have been trying to figure out who I am more and more; maybe it is because schools and the media are starting to give this more attention.  Whatever reason it is for, I find it very difficult to feel like I am an original copy when all anyone does is try to copy everyone else.

A couple months ago, as I was going through yet another depressive episode, I was journaling and this topic came up.  It went a little something like this:

I am not special.

I am not unusual.

I am not unique.

And no matter what you say or do, I don’t believe you could change my mind.

I am not a good person.

I am not beautiful.

I am not intelligent.

There is no reason for me to be here.  Anybody could do what I do.  There is nothing about me that sets me apart.

I am selfish.

I am prideful.

I am a nobody.

I live life just like the majority of the population of middle class America lives their lives.  I struggle to pay for school by working crappy jobs, I procrastinate professionally, and I am addicted to coffee.

What makes me different?  Absolutely nothing.  I am a waste of space.  If I were gone, everyone would still thrive and I can believe almost no one would care if I was not around.

I utterly despise myself.  I will never be good enough for anyone or anything.  I’ll never mount to be the person I wish to be.  My dreams are stupid.  Who am I to think that I could change any person’s life?  I can’t.

You know how, when you’re young, people will ask you about your hopes and dreams?  I remember always dreaming of doing something with books but was always told to not pursue that dream because I could not make any money off of it.

That’s alright though; because honestly, hopes and dreams don’t come true.  They are just little fantasies that run through your head and make you happy for all of a second.

That is where the journal entry abruptly stops. I would bet you more than the amount of money in my bank account that I had worked myself into a panic attack and was self-destructing, hence why I stopped writing.

That’s the thing though.  I am so scared of not being unique and original that I will let it build up inside of me until my brain just starts attacking itself.  When I panic I tend to want to be very aggressive towards myself.  I will wish for someone to just come and cripple me so that I can physically feel as beat up as I do mentally.  I tend to be a pretty unresponsive person during these times of panic though.  I start completely shutting down.  I will start staring blankly into random space, I curl up into as tiny of a ball as is possible, and I don’t say a word.  This starts a dark spiral of me shutting out the world and scary, intrusive suicidal thoughts may start running through my head.  And that is all because I’m afraid I am not one of a kind like every teacher, coach, and mentor I have had has told me.

I’m not the only person like this.  EVERYONE does this.  I don’t care if you are 10 years old or 75.  Now, I’m not saying that everyone is so scared of not being one of a kind that they become suicidal.  But there is typically many times in everyone’s life when they will compare themselves to others, feel inadequate in their field, or just plain feel like they aren’t passing as a good human.

Whenever I think about why we are constantly feeling inadequate, I’m not really sure how to approach it.  Of course, my first thought is to blame the media because that just seems to be our go to when we need someone to blame; although, that may not be the only reason why we are feeling this way.  We are part of the problem as well.  I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case, this topic has been emphasized so much that whenever I catch myself doing something exactly like someone else, I feel like I have to be doing something wrong.  That doesn’t come from social media.  That may be a part of it, but I think it also comes from always being taught that I should never try to fit into a friend group by becoming someone I’m not.  Obviously, I have taken it to an extreme if I can catch myself doing something similar to someone else (like while at work and there is a set protocol for how the task gets done)  and feel like I’m doing something wrong.

The fact remains, we are all taught from young ages to not do something just because it will make us look cool or because we would fit in to whatever friend group we want to be a part of.  I definitely believe that life lesson is something that needs to be taught; however, I am beginning to wonder if there is a different way to approach the subject to help avoid the epidemic of feeling inadequate.

I’m not entirely sure what this new approach would look like.  Perhaps it could be something as “simple” as focusing on the positive rather than pointing out every flaw you see.  With how embedded negativity is in our society, this may seem like an almost impossible task.  It all starts with one person being willing to change and spreading their positivity into their community.  Imagine the ripple effect you could have if you were the person to start this?!

Now, I realize this seems overly simplistic and maybe too naively optimistic, but imagine what just one random compliment a day could do to a person’s confidence?  No matter who you are, you want to be noticed and being complimented is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to do so.  Now, imagine if you gave yourself a compliment everyday.  Can you imagine how much that could help your confidence?

Maybe you still won’t think you are as original of a copy as you intended to be, but you are definitely one step closer to being there.  Is there anyone who can really pull off being you as well as you can?  I would argue that that isn’t possible.  You may be in a field that thousands of other people are in but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a unique voice.  You may think you aren’t as pretty as someone else or that you will never be good enough for someone, but none of that is true.  The saying goes, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link”.  Realize how unique you truly are, look at yourself in the mirror and give yourself a pep talk:

I am special.

I am extraordinary.

I am unique.

And no matter what you say or do, I don’t believe you could change my mind.

I am a good person.

I am beautiful.

I am intelligent.

There is every reason for me to be here.  Anybody could do what I do, but I do it in my own special way.  There is something about me that sets me apart.

I can be selfish.

I can be prideful.

But I am a child of God.

He created me to be unique and to share my voice with the world.  He gives me everything I need to get through the difficult days and He is waiting patiently for me to make it to the other side.  I will be the original copy He intended me to be, no matter what I do.

Until next time my friends,

Aly

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