Taking a look at the ebb and flow of insecurity between mind and body
Hi guys! I had some unused PTO and took time off to do pretty much nothing and recalibrate a bit. Hope you’ve all been doing well and let’s get into today’s thoughts!
Prior to my time off, I saw this video, and have been thinking about it since:
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Listen, I loved Selena Gomez. She was the first ever photo reference I excitedly brought to the hairdresser for a style I wanted. The hairdresser was adamant about the fact that it wOulDn’T lOOk liKe tHE phOtO, but I insisted… lesson learned. I still remember listening to Who Says with my friend’s iPod shuffle, belting out the lyrics in my living room, and admiring Alex Russo’s style on Wizards of Waverly Place. I grew out of my Selena phase shortly after that, then she started dating Justin Bieber (I didn’t make this but shoutout google I am thoroughly entertained), but that’s a whole other story.
I loved Selena Gomez. I say loved because quite frankly, she’s just one of those celebrities I remember every now and then and think “oh yeah, they’re still a thing.” The only things I know about her in recent years is that she had a kidney transplant, struggles with bipolar disorder, is somehow still insanely famous yet able to fly under the radar while being one of the five most followed accounts on Instagram, has her own cooking show, a music career I tend to forget about (she has a lot of pop bops though so I dunno why I blank on that), and a fresh documentary overseeing the last few years of her life. Hm, I guess I know quite a bit about her, actually! I like Selena Gomez, and from what I know of her, she seems like a nice woman who’s doing her part in continuing to be a female role model and just a generally kind person to look up to—but yeah—I dunno. I can’t imagine how weird celebrities' lives are in comparison to their old ‘normal’ one’s, especially for child stars who don’t even have a full grasp on what was vs. what has been practically their whole life; but something about the aforementioned video made me wince a bit, but also reminisce a bit.
The wincing stems from the fact that someone recorded her optimistically looking up into the cloudless New York City sky, arms at her side, hands squeezing her sweater, yelling, “I love this city! I can be myself!—and nobody judges me!” I feel bad because I guess I’m judging her based on how ahhhhuhhhhmmmm this video made me feel, the delivery of it all, but it’s how I felt so, shrug. I understand the sentiment and completely agree—no one gives a flying flip about who you are and what you do in the city, hence why it’s so common to come into one’s own in a place as such. The main thing I want to note here is how staged it feels for a thirty year old to be screaming this in the street for her TikTok followers. I’m not wincing because I think it’s disingenuous, I’m wincing because this feels like a vulnerable confession, a statement of sorts, that one can experience at any age, that a thirty year old celebrity who's been in the business her entire life is sharing with millions of people in a staged manner via TikTok. Who cares, let people live, right? I’m sure her words are inspiring to many, which is valuable, but it reminds me of a very personal and needed experience I had when first starting to explore New York City on my own—coming from living in the suburbs of Connecticut—but at the age of fifteen.
Selena’s life is vastly different from the average joe, and we all experience maturity/mental health/the world differently from one another, but this video made me wonder why it felt like she was having a very teenage-esque intimate ‘I am the main character, I am special, I don’t need to feel insecure because blah blah, no one actually cares if I do this or that’ moment as a thirty year old woman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, there’s no right or wrong time to feel what one is feeling for whatever reasons, but it just got me wondering about her story behind those words.
I was never outright bullied when I was younger, never, but I pretty much always felt this sense of un-belonging amongst my peers. My mother loved dressing me as unique as she loved to dress—there’d sometimes be comments and pointing, at least from what I didn’t block out, it’s no big deal in theory, but it took its toll on me as an unaware of the rest of the world child. It's kind of funny how things change because nowadays, there’s no specific way I’ve seen parent’s dress their children and parents are even lauded if their child seems to have their own “taste”—but when I was younger, anything out of a select few styles was seen as being too different.
Since both of my parents were born and raised in New York, my father Staten Island and mother the Bronx, I’d been in and out of the metropolitan area throughout my childhood, but didn’t start truly exploring on my own until I was in High school. Prior to High school, my “style” ebbed and flowed with how confident or insecure I was feeling. One insecure phase I clearly remember was in fourth or fifth grade, wearing my friend's old pale pink North Face fleece jacket over practically everything I wore to school, even when it was hot. Another time, in third grade, it was field day and my mother sent me to school wearing a patterned skirt with my field day t-shirt that I made my mission to take off and hide somewhere so I could wear shorts like everyone else—the shorts I wore were neon orange bike shorts underneath the skirt so, good job not standing out there Em! Middle school into early High school, I got caught up in the typical suburban teenage girl staples I never felt right in, but not feeling right felt more comfortable than looking different at the time. It’s actually so sad and ridiculous to think about the lengths I went through when I was younger to not stand out, but growing up at any age is just weird and these types of instances are a given for some.
It wasn’t until my first few times commuting to New York City the Summer of 2015 for two Pre-College classes at FIT when I had the holy moment of realizing life is incredibly short, absolutely no one gives a—I will say again—flying FLIP about what you're wearing. If anything, one is typically admired for being who they are; why are you (me) still holding yourself back?
Highly populated areas, such as cities, have a way of making you feel nothing yet everything at once. At the time, I had a moment where I sat back and thought to myself how much easier life would be if I was just me—no matter the city, no matter the anything. By the time Autumn rolled around, I was kind of a transformed individual if you will, and even started expressing myself through the FIT Pre-College blog I was selected to write for (I do not regret any of these but I'm giggling/cringing at 2015 me).
Like Selena, I finally didn’t feel a sense of judgment when I made my way into the city—not one bit. I know I can’t speak for her specifically, but the mindset shift I had during this part of my life was transformative beyond compare, and set the stage for how I continue to carry myself today. While I chose to keep this special aha! moment to myself when it happened, despite the cringe towards the way it was filmed and the general lack of context social media thrives on, I’m happy Selena seemed to have that moment, and appreciate her reminding me of mine.
New people, places and things either teach us something new, or uncover what’s been known—insecurity will always do what it does best, but it’s up to us to redefine it.
Thank you for reading.
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