Embracing the person I am.

| Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Today's Tune: Forever Yours

I know this will come as a shock to absolutely everyone, but I went through kind of an identity crisis as a teen and young adult. I KNOW. I KNOW. That never happens to anyone. It's practically impossible to imagine me without my rapier wit and easy self-confidence and complete modesty and remarkable storytelling ability.

Shut up in the back. I can hear you snickering.

Yeah. I was one of those girls who "found herself" in her early-to-mid-twenties. To be completely honest, I think there's still a part of me that's out there looking. After all, I don't think we're ever set in stone. We're malleable until the day we die. However, I feel a lot more confident and happy with the person I am today than I did when I was younger.

There are certain parts of me that have always been the same. My optimism. My desire to mediate tense situations. My eagerness to please. My laziness. My perfectionism. And always, always, always my desire for acceptance.

As a teen, that last one felt like my constant driving force. I wanted to be liked. No, I wanted to be adored. I needed to find my place. I tried popularity (hahahaha fail). I tried sports. I tried various religions. I tried theater, and honors classes, and liking certain music.

In college, it went something like: straight-edge, slacker, good girl, gamer girl, student committee participant, musician, artist, biologist, punk rocker girl-with-pink-hair, English nerd, party girl, activist, whatever-time-to-graduate.

I just wanted to find my place, but I didn't know how.

I kept chasing this mystical idea that if I just hit the right personality, all the adoration and love I was looking for would come rolling my way. I'd be one of those shiny, happy people with a million friends and a hundred things to do every weekend.

And finally I reached a point where I was just done. I was finished trying so hard to be something I wasn't. I honestly wish I could say that I just started ACTING LIKE MYSELF and then everyone loved me and I got all those great things I was looking for! But that's not true. Being myself didn't make me popular, or adored, or anything except me. But I was finally okay with that.

I'm not going to lie. There's still a piece of me that yearns to be recognized, to be loved, to be one of THOSE people. The ones everybody looks at and hangs on and wants to be. The one that joins the ranks of "cool kids." The YA online circle can feel like that sometimes, whether it's intentional or not. However, I'm at a point now where I recognize that the perception is largely just that -- a perception. Yes, some writers are bestsellers or have a million followers or are lauded with awards and movie deals and whatever else. They're also just people. People who are usually being themselves.

 So I choose to embrace being the person I am. Embrace all of the parts of me, even the parts that aren't so great. Like that pesky desire to fit in. I'm always going to want that. But now I've reached a point where I won't change my personality to try and fit some imaginary mold.

This is me. I'm cool with that. Are you?

Are you cool with yourself, I mean. I assume if you're hanging out on my blog that you're okay with me. I COULD BE WRONG THOUGH. Maybe you're a closet hater who likes to lurk and seethe.

I don't think I'll ever stop being that girl trying to find her place in the world, but at least now I feel like I've got an internal compass to guide me back home.


{ Emy Shin } at: December 7, 2011 at 5:07 AM said...

I feel like I am still in the process of finding out about myself, figuring out who I am, so this post really resonates with me. I'd have to say that no, I'm not cool with myself. When I look at myself, all I can see are imperfections. But I do hope to get there someday soon. :)

{ vic caswell (aspiring-x) } at: December 7, 2011 at 6:58 AM said...

so cool! maybe through the years!
i'm totally cool with you, and i'm cool with me, and i'm cool with whatchamacallit in the deep blue sea...

{ Old Kitty } at: December 7, 2011 at 7:03 AM said...

I had to wait till I turned 39 to be happy with myself! :-)

Take care

{ Kelley } at: December 7, 2011 at 7:39 AM said...

In seventh grade I lost all my friends because I wasn't 'cool enough'. It was hard. But after I found a group of friends who I still hang out with to this day I had found myself.

I was one of the lucky ones in high school who was totally comfortable with herself. (I know, weird, right?)

I'm still sifting through all the things I love to do, in order to find out what makes me happiest. (Because there just isn't time for them all). But I'm totally comfortable with who I am. On most days ;)

{ Bobby Mathews } at: December 7, 2011 at 7:49 AM said...

I've always thought you were one of the most amazing, beautiful people (inside and out) that I've ever known -- and you still are. :-)

Glad you're embracing the woman you are.

{ Miss Cole } at: December 7, 2011 at 7:50 AM said...

College sounded seriously busy for you!

We're good ;) You're very cool. And who knows, maybe your movie deal is just around the corner...

{ TL Conway } at: December 7, 2011 at 8:06 AM said...

There's something amazing about reading blogs of people whom I look up to and see as "Super awesome popular published writer person" and learning that they're just as normal as the rest of us. I remember how scared I was to email people to participate in my NaNo blog fest, but by doing so, I really understood everyone really is human. We all have insecurities. But as I've gotten older, I've realized it takes too much energy to try and be someone different. I still want people to "like" me, but it's crucial that I like myself, first.

Very nice post, Steph. Thanks for making me think.

{ Amanda Olivieri } at: December 7, 2011 at 8:47 AM said...

LOVE all the pictures! And wow, you look really different with long hair. Yeah, I have that annoying need to "fit in" too. I feel like I'm also still finding myself, or whatever, but I definitely have a better sense of self now than I did a few years ago. Which is cool. Anyway, good job being happy with yourself :) Also, don't forget that you are a super cool lady dude to many people!

{ Melanie Fowler } at: December 7, 2011 at 10:27 AM said...

I think that it's good to look around and experiment for something that you like. It helps mold you into who you are now. I think that your lovely, and I love your honest opinion on your blog and your posts. They're great. You are great.

{ Elissa Sussman } at: December 7, 2011 at 11:15 AM said...

My musical-loving, woman's history studyin', animation watching, romance reading, bossy pants wearing, YA fantasy writing self salutes you and all that gather here.

{ Connie Keller } at: December 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM said...

I think I wanted to be cool in junior high, but it didn't take long to realize that was never going to happen. And then, I was thankful because I realized the cool kids weren't very happy. :)

Thanks for sharing the photos--very brave.

{ Seabrooke } at: December 7, 2011 at 11:36 AM said...

Oh, Steph. You pretty much described me completely here. (Minus the punk-rocker-girl-with-pink-hair and party girl, perhaps.) As a child who was always on the outside looking in at my peers, I've always longed for that feeling of acceptance and being part of a group. I had it for most of high school, but not before or since, which I think is maybe why high school feels like the period of my life when I was happiest. Since graduating I've developed more confidence in myself and come to love who I am, however, and though I still find myself standing outside looking in wistfully at groups of my peers having fun together, I'm pretty happy and content with myself and where I am. I'm glad you are, too.

{ Gilly } at: December 7, 2011 at 11:50 AM said...

OH ME TOO!!! At the very same time I mocked those cool kids, I wanted to be one of them. In a way, I think this is what makes reading and writing about the teen experience so compelling. Wondering who you are and who you should be and how other people will react to those choices. That's less expected when you're an adult. As we age and grow, it becomes less socially acceptable to experiment as openly with who you are and who you want to be. But I still do it (in different ways), and I suspect other people do too.

{ We Heart YA } at: December 7, 2011 at 12:13 PM said...

Yeah, we're definitely cool with that. ;)

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: December 7, 2011 at 12:20 PM said...

Wow, thank you for all the nice comments and thoughts, all! I'm glad this resonated with so many of you :)

{ Andrew } at: December 7, 2011 at 5:20 PM said...

Can I lurk and do something else? I'm not much for seething. It takes too much constant effort. Lurking sounds kind of cool, though.

You know, I never went through any of that stuff... that having to figure out whon you are stuff. I've always wondered if I missed out there, but it never sounds like any fun when people talk about having done it.

{ Phoebe } at: December 7, 2011 at 5:53 PM said...

Me too! Funny thing was, years later I found out people thought I was cool. lol wut?!

This is maybe silly but I suspect we would have been thick as thieves if we'd been in college together.

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