By Sara Orellana
In today’s world, it is hard to find an authentic person.
It appears everyone is more worried about following the latest TikTok trend than being themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I love the videos and challenges, I just cringe that our youth are more worried about copying a trend than being themselves.
To be honest, I suspect this is a challenge and worry every parent has. Thankfully, I spent my formative years attending Catholic schools. Wearing uniforms and abiding by strict rules made my desire to conform disappear. This has been both a good thing and a bad thing.
I think my desire to be myself, to not be told what to do or wear has rubbed off on my daughter. B has always marched to her own drum. I remember a determined first grader who loved the Jonas Brothers and wore hats and scarves to school every day. I loved it. I encouraged her to be brave and make her own style. She continued to be brave and march to the beat of her own drum, style drum that is.
Fast-forward 12 years, and I have a 19-year-old who does her own thing. She rocks ‘90s grunge better than I ever could or did. From the vintage t-shirts and flannels to the Doc Martins and brown lipstick, she has the attitude and style down.
I love that in a world of trendsetters and followers, my daughter has a mind of her own and wears what she wants to wear. Thinking about fashion and her rebellious streak, I started contemplating authenticity. It appears so few people have it. I suspect this is not something influenced by social media. As much as we would love to blame social media for everything, it simply isn’t the case here. Prior to social media we had commercials, magazines, and of course the gossip train. As far back as history records there are records of trendsetters, how to copy looks, and snide remarks of those who chose to wear what they wanted.
But here’s the thing: being authentic isn’t about what we wear; it’s about being true to ourselves. Fashion is simply one of the easiest ways we must express ourselves. Being authentic is living to our own moral code, following our dreams, and pursuing hobbies we are truly passionate about.
For years, I have known I am not like others, and struggled with that. I hid the fact that I love animals, love to read, be creative, and be active. I enjoy a cute outfit, but fashion isn’t as much of a priority for me, as reading an article discussing a new find or investigation into why we act the way we do.
Once I finally stopped caring what others thought, and embraced who I was, I became more relaxed and at ease in social situations. It was easier to make meaningful connections and navigate a room. Thinking about all the years I struggled with understanding how to navigate social interactions, or the time I spent wishing I was more like others, I realized how important it was to share these lessons with B. Knowing she would be a happier, better adjusted person because she could learn from my struggles with authenticity made all my struggles worth it.
Sara Orellana is a community volunteer, entrepreneur, author, amateur chef, and advocate for rescued animals. She may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.