Growing up, most of us are taught that we’re “different”, we’re unique, that we’re our own person. While that is not entirely wrong, it presents this skewed notion that we’re somehow isolated from our environment. Looking around me and within me, I have come to realise that we are not that different after all, and we’re certainly not separate from our surroundings. We’re constantly looking at the people in our lives and the experiences we come across to help us build and see who we are. Our environments are essentially our mirrors, and more often that not, we find ourselves trapped in their definitions.

A girl who wants to be “pretty” but doesn’t look like the definition of “pretty” according to those in her environment will never see herself as pretty. A boy who wants to be “rebellious” but doesn’t fit the definition of “rebellious” according to those in his environment will never see himself as a rebel. So, we strive to become what we want to see in our “mirrors”, moulding ourselves according to a certain niche in the society that we live in. And if somehow, we fail in that process, we feel excluded, left out, alone – a bad different.

But is it really so bad? For most of my life, I felt that I existed somewhere between flawed and full of potential. I felt that I did not fit in the ‘group’ that I wanted to in school, I did not experience a college life that I was ‘supposed to’ live, and that I did not become a person that my environment expected me to.

In the end, I said “chuck it all” and decided I was different, but that’s where the irony comes in. There’s a niche to how “different” is supposed to be too – and I found myself trying to adapt to it.

I could go on and on about the mistakes I made and what I did and how I behaved, ever since I was a teenager to the present point in my life, to mould myself into what I saw in the mirror, but that’s not the point. Looking back, I only see years and years of trying so hard to “fit in” and “be normal”  and “be like so and so” by doing numerous things that I probably didn’t even want to do, or by saying things that I didn’t even want to say.

And last night, as I struggled to meet a crazy work deadline, I realised I was fighting so hard not because I wanted to but because I was expected to. At home, at work, with friends, with family. I was expected to abide by perfection – that had somehow become my mirror in the past few months – and when I couldn’t, it drove me crazy. It was like waking up from a dream – learning the difference between what I really want for myself and what others want from me. There’s no harm in trying to do good, to be good, but the definition of good – that is one that should be defined by my experiences and my ideas – because I am me and not my mirror.

I don’t want to be understood by everyone and to desperately adhere to what is needed from me. I don’t want to be trapped in the definitions of my mirror. I want to break free and understand myself before I spend a life blended into my environment without a speck of personality to call my own.

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