This Is Why Self-Expression Is More Important Than Looking ‘Cool’

Twenty20 / kpdaprincess
Twenty20 / kpdaprincess

When I was in high school, I had a couple friends who only cared about what they looked like and who was dating who and what the latest hot gossip was. I admit that I spent a year and a half only caring about that stuff, or at least acting like I did. I didn’t care who cheated on whom or which freshman girls made the cheerleading team. After I graduated, I was the happiest person in the world. I remained close with my two best friends, Kelly and Jorden, and I didn’t have to pretend I cared about pointless drama anymore.

When I started college, I registered to go after my Associates in Science, majoring in Business Administration. I did this because of an experience in high school that led me to believe that I wanted to manage high end hotels and resorts. I also did this because I was eighteen and that major seemed to impress everyone I told. People were awestruck that an eighteen year old was so interested in business and she seemed to know exactly what she wanted.

My exact plan was to get my degree in two years and move to North Carolina to go to a school up there and I would start my career and become so powerful that I would open my own chain of hotels. I wanted to travel the world and I wanted to have enough money to live more than comfortably. Every one of my friends was so jealous that I would get out of the small town we lived in, and all of the adults I knew seemed very impressed and wished me luck. While I appreciated that, I also struggled with hoping I would like what my life turned out to be. I had stopped caring about the drama of other people, but I started caring about what impressed people.

While being an impressive person is nice, it really only means something if you are impressing yourself.

Just last semester, I decided to change my degree and major. I am currently going after my Associates in Art, with no specific major. I did this because I was going through a book of fancy hotels that I had marked what I liked about each one on a post it note, and I realized I had pointed out the design aspects of the pictures. I realized I didn’t want to manage a hotel, I wanted to design them. I wanted to build amazing buildings and I wanted to design beautiful rooms.

At the end of my last semester, my English teacher told us to attend a poetry reading for extra credit, and she told us that if we read something then we would get even more extra credit. I went, because I really don’t mind poetry and I didn’t mind having extra credit even though I already had an A. I get to the reading, and I brought something to read just in case I got my nerve up to do it. I watched people read their own work as well as famous pieces.

I saw that each person was nervous, but they got up there, read their piece, and did it with such enthusiasm and such fearlessness. That was amazing to see.

Almost everyone at my high school was so concerned about looking cool that they didn’t put their heart into things in fear of being rejected. I was tired of feeling that way, so I signed up to read.

My hands instantly started sweating and I was silently freaking out. I almost regretted signing up to read, but I knew if I backed out now, I’d regret that even more.

So my name was called, I went up and read a piece that I had written two years before, and I got a huge applause at the end.

It was then that I realized that I felt a lot better when I was freely expressing myself rather than when I was listening to gossip or going to a party to be seen.

Both of my best friends were at the reading and they both said I did really well and that made me feel really great. But it was a new type of great that I really wanted to hang on to.

January of 2016, I submitted my first piece to Thought Catalog. A couple days later it became live on the website. I posted the link on all of my social media and got a better response than I thought I would. It feels really good to finally be strong and brave enough to put my writing out to the public and let people be a part of what I love doing. Going to a simple poetry reading changed my life, and I’ve been happy ever since then, because I’m doing the thing I love and people are actually reading my words.

I don’t think I’ll make a huge impression and change the world for the better or anything, but maybe someone reading this will gain enough courage to stand up and express themselves or do something just for themselves. Blow your own mind. TC mark

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