In the age of social media, it’s hard to stay true to yourself. Especially when you have a million different people pointing out every small imperfection or weird kink you have. It’s even harder when those same people start to hurl abuse. Because of this we tend to lose track of ourselves in order to fit in with what’s considered ‘normal’. This is not ok.

It’s time we put an end to the ignorance that has built throughout generations and become accepting of each other in every pure shape and form.

As someone who has always struggled with her identity, this issue really hits home. Growing up I found myself changing my personality each time I met someone new, hoping to fit into their idealism of ‘normal’, hoping to be accepted. I began to lose track of who I really was underneath, never having my own likes, dislikes, hobbies and dreams. I was always a reflection of those around me. As I grew, I began to severely struggle within myself, realising who I was isn’t who I truly wanted to be. I would find myself lying to seek approval and becoming a part of things I had no business being involved in. But my issue was, I was too deep into this persona I had created. I wasn’t aware of who the ‘real’ me was anymore. I desperately wanted to find her, but I was too stuck in the mindset I had programmed into my brain. Too scared to be tossed aside from all the people I had bonded with; I mean why would they want to be associated with a fraud right?

It took me a very long time to break free of this mindset and begin the journey of self-discovery, a journey I am not afraid to admit I am still on, might I add. I was faced with many obstacles, but I think my biggest challenge was accepting my background. This may seem shocking as being a young white female, my life has been understandably easy. I haven’t had to face the same issues that are unfortunately thrown at people of other cultures. However, I still found myself superficially wanting to be a part of any other culture but my own. Every other culture seemed a lot more exciting than my own. I wanted an ‘exotic’ sounding name and more prominent features (fuller lips, bigger eyes, thicker brows and hair). I would always admire my friends’ features and feel very plain in comparison.

It sounds very uncultured, which I guess at the time I was because I wasn’t exposed to the negativity these same features obtain. I wanted to belong to a culture that was full of soulful music, delicious food and a strong community.

I would wish my grandad was still alive so I could embrace my Jamaican side, a side my mother slowly shut out once he died. As I grew older, I became more aware of the magnitude of racism and abuse these same cultures faced daily simply because of the things I admired so deeply. As I became more aware of the world, I not only realised how unfairly lucky I was to be who I am but also how unjust it is on people to be targeted for being themselves. I became full of anger.

Everyone deserves to express themselves and their heritage freely. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin. Every skin is beautiful.

@skin.is.skin

Of course, we have taken strides over the generations to become more diverse and open minded about each other and our cultures, however it’s not where it should be. The world is there for everyone to live in, explore and experience, so no one should feel afraid of embracing their roots. If you think about it; with how deep into generations we are, it’s highly likely we’re all a mix of several different cultures no matter how we look on the outside.

It’s easy to bash something when you don’t understand or haven’t experienced it before, but instead of going on the offense and hurting someone emotionally or even physically, try asking for an explanation to better understand, ask if you can join in, I’m sure people will appreciate the efforts. Life should be all about experiencing new things with new people from all around the globe (if it’s done appropriately of course).

The same goes for those who are found to be singled out due to sexuality or religion. Love is love no matter whether it consists of a man and woman, man and man or woman and woman. Why is someone’s love and affection for another human being so repulsive? It’s something that’s personal to everyone. And everyone should be able to express their feelings openly. There is also now so much more to the LGBTQA+ community that I will be completely honest don’t fully understand so I won’t go into detail about (I would love to be more educated on this at a later date), however I still believe every single one of the people who belong to this community are beautiful and worthy of happiness. We are all entitled to be who we want to be, and we should all get the opportunity to fulfil our desires, a chance to be content in our own skin.

The same way someone’s devotion to a God shouldn’t be an issue. If it’s something you personally don’t agree with or want to be a part of that’s fine, everyone has their own interests but that doesn’t mean harassing someone because of it is ok. The same as cultural differences. Religion should be able to be explored freely with the guarantee of safety. Again, if you don’t understand just ask.

It’s also weird to me that people tend to bully others due to simple interests. If we were all the same, life would be very mundane. Being different is what makes us special, what makes the world such a beautiful place. I also encourage those around me and even myself to forget about what anyone else thinks because life is too short for that. Enjoy what you love in the moment and soon enough you’ll find like-minded people to bond with. Anyone who is worth your time will love you no matter what your interests are. They’ll even love you more because of it.

It’s incredibly hard, especially with trend culture to feel comfortable in your own skin, to feel comfortable expressing yourself for what you truly love and are. But if we don’t, we’ll live our whole lives being imposters, only to regret it when it’s too late.

One thing we can all do to ensure going forward that everyone feels inclusive of being able to express themselves freely is to be accepting, to show the younger generations it’s ok to be yourself.

Lauren is a content writer that is creating her own book and aspires to become a published author. While writing content, she also spends her time performing as an actress for different projects presented to her.

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