The Trouble with "You Do You"
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We're all for celebrating #goalsetting. In fact, the whole Internet these days seems to be about the Life Peg. Just sift through all the #inspo tags on your social media accounts and you’ll find an "ideal" for just about everything—Cara Delevingne's eyebrows, Kendall Jenner's lips, (insert name of your favorite blogger)'s food shots. From where someone travels to how someone's body looks, we are peppered 24/7 with images that feed this ideal we aspire for.
To a certain extent, our wants and wishes clue us in on who we are. Having an affinity for cutting up your Barbie's clothes could hint at a future in fashion. Playing around with your older sister's DSLR could point to a career in photography. Young adults, most especially, are at an extremely malleable time of their lives where potential is infinite and experimentation is encouraged. Embracing these life pegs enables you to dig deeper into what lies beneath the surface.
There's a fine line, though, between gaining inspiration from your life peg and obsessing over the shoulds that come with your idea. When are your goals your own or when are they an imitation of someone else's life? Authenticity is hard to come by, no matter what age you're at. As individuals, we change and grow constantly. You may feel completely passionate about being the next Tricia Will Go Places one day, then realize the next that you'd rather imbibe Kimi Juan's travel vibe. Finding someone to look up to who resonates with you at the present moment is all part of finding your own voice. And if that means doing a switcheroo every now and then, jumping from brush lettering master to rubber-stamping craft queen goals, that's okay. After all, you can't find what you're called to do if you hole yourself up in a corner with no inspiration at all.
The challenge these days, comes from the constant spamming of "pretty" and "curation" online. So much "perfection" can put pressure on anybody to live that picture-perfect life—much more on someone who still hasn’t formed her own sense of self. How can you truly "do you" when all you see around you are neat little boxes filled with zero mistakes?
As if that weren't enough, there is also the added call for self-expression these days. Being cool is equated with voicing out your individuality—the whole you do you movement is based on that. But if you're already confused about following someone's perfection (vs using it as real life inspiration), and are expected to make your mark on the world by voicing out your beliefs, opinions, aesthetic (whether the foundation behind them is solid or not) ASAP, what sense of self are you left with?
In a recent Book Con 2015 interview between authors, actors and real life best friends BJ Novak and Mindy Kaling, Kaling acknowledges the pressure kids are under to express themselves and be whatever they want to be. She moves to the flipside, however, and talks about how unpopular it is to tell young adults about the value of listening and observing others before you speak.
Imagine how much more comfortable you will be on that grandstand, when you show the world that you’re doing you, if you've taken the time to absorb the inspiration around you, to filter and sift through what resonates and what doesn't, and when you take the time first to acknowledge and figure out why you like the people you like, and why your life goals are who you are. Before jumping on the you do you bandwagon, give yourself the benefit and honor of exploring who you are—by gaining inspiration from your #___goals and digging deeper to find out what you love about them and what they mean to you.