By Paige Kiser, Regular ContributorJuly 12, 2015
When you’re young, especially a young girl, it’s easy to fall into a position of feeling like it’s necessary to please everyone, whether it’s your family, friends, miscellaneous peers, teachers, or anyone else of importance in your life. They have certain expectations for the kind of person they think you should be and who they want you to be, and even if they don’t clearly express those expectations, self-consciousness can make you assume for yourself.
You feel like you have to be noticeably smart, but not show it in ways that would make you seem intimidating. You feel like you have to be the right kind of funny in order to be noticed, racing to punchlines and adopting the loudest laugh in the room. You feel like you have to be what people consider “beautiful,” even though that could mean so many different things, and those things may not even parallel to what you consider beautiful.
image via buzzfeed.com
There is an undeniable pressure to always strive to be “the best version of yourself.” But what does that really mean?
Are we supposed to feel guilty and bad about ourselves on the days when we are less than what people expect of us, on the days when we’re still figuring things out?
Making mistakes and experiencing failure are the only ways we really know how to grow, learn, and become better people. Sometimes we have to get through a lot of bad days in order to just have one good day, but we learn a lot about ourselves and our needs in the process. It’s easy to forget that having negative experiences is sometimes just as important as having positive ones, especially when we’re so concentrated on being as close to perfect and acceptable as possible and focusing on only making our feelings of happiness (not sadness) and moments of success (not failure) known.
It’s natural to want the people you care about to like you or be proud of you, but you shouldn’t have to give up anything that makes you who you are – flaws and all – in order for that to happen.
Maybe being the best you that you can be doesn’t mean appearing to have everything in your life sorted out and acting fearlessly. Maybe it simply means being your genuine, authentic self and doing the best you can, even in the messy, complicated moments of life that are anything but beautiful.
Everything can start to feel a little less overwhelming if you allow there to be space to fail, to experiment, to grow. Give yourself the permission to be a work in progress, and find the good in it.
How are you acting as a work in progress? What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned from failing or making mistakes? How have they helped you? Tell us below!
Paige is a film production student who is passionate about social justice and encouraging people to love themselves. She enjoys black coffee, movie marathons, Halloween, vintage fashion, comic books, and telling everyone she knows why RuPaul’s Drag Race is the best thing ever. When she isn’t at a movie theater or asking a tall stranger to help her reach for books on top shelves, you can find her on twitter @paigevsreality.