Hello friends! So, it turns out the last post was not my last Good for You post. Surprise! I’ve been offered the opportunity to carry on running Good for You throughout next year, and I think I’m going to do it. You can all breathe a sigh of relief. Today’s post is going to be a Food for Thought because I want to share something that’s been on my mind recently.

I think something that humans are very good at doing subconsciously is internalizing parts of other people and societal expectations and making them a part of who they are. We want to fit in, so we take bits and pieces of other people and stitch them together to try and form a distinct self. This isn’t always bad- it’s okay to like something about someone’s personality and try to get better at it yourself, but it’s harmful to your self-image to try and ignore the pieces of you that authentically belong to you. (I feel like I’m word-vomiting a little- I hope this makes sense.)

For a lot of my ninth grade year, my greatest wish was to be seen as somebody who was perfect. Some of you have probably heard the TikTok sound “straight hair, straight As, straightforward straight girl, little miss perfect, that’s me.” That pretty much describes the pieces of myself that I was copying from other people. I internalized the intense academic pressure I was feeling- that toxic culture around grades that is a massive detriment to students’ wellbeing. I forced myself to wear clothes I was uncomfortable in because the people who wore them always looked cool. I dampened down my true personality and leaned away from my identity because I was scared it would set me apart. I kept doing this, but it didn’t help anything. My mental health had already been in the gutter for years, and my quest for conformity applied more and more pressure until I eventually broke.

Unfortunately, I’m sure a lot of you reading this have had such a similar experience at some point in your life. We’re told from the time we’re kids to be ourselves, but nobody really believes it. It’s too difficult to fight the natural instinct to copy the way someone you view as superior speaks, the way they carry themself, the way they dress, the way they love, or more. It’s even harder for people who face discrimination on the basis of who they are- you face internalized racism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, antisemitism, transphobia, etc. We don’t believe that we should be our true self until the pressure of trying to be bits and pieces of someone else breaks us.

So I implore you to ask yourself- how much of you is really you? Try to spot the pieces of yourself that are carbon copies of a quality held by somebody else. Try to find the pieces that are dragging you down and the pieces that you’re ignoring. There’s a thriving core that’s authentically you under the debris. Where is that core and who’s the person inside it?

Thank you once again for reading Food for Thought on Good for You. I hope you’re all well and I hope you have a productive and peaceful Sunday.