We are very prone to curate images of ourselves and of people around us in our minds. They are usually not real, just reflections of our thoughts. The worst of these images is the one we have of ourselves mainly because we refuse to be kind or realistic to ourselves. We put so many negatives onto our own image because we strive to have the best one we can ever have. However, in doing so, we usually burden ourselves with a forceful necessity to become that girl, a girl who may as well be someone else.
Take a moment now before you keep reading. You haven’t asked who that girl is, right? You know exactly who I’m referring to. A very specific image pops up in your head when you hear the words. It is the girl you think you want to be, who you think is cool, who does it all. She braids the front strands of her hair, and writes down her assignments in a cute little planner, and knows how to pose on Instagram.
Scrolling through TikTok and interest, I came across the that girl aesthetic many times. At first it seemed inspiring. If other people were able to do it all, I also could right? I could braid the front strands of my hair, and buy a cute little planner, and up my Instagram game. As the semester came to an end and we moved into summer, I thought I would finally have time for this project. I was ready to become that girl.
To say the least, I tried to wake up before sunrise to exercise, plan out my work — and actually do it — socialize non-stop, eat a low-calorie diet, and look cute at all costs. I actually did it. I became that girl for a week or so. Yet, I didn’t feel accomplished at all. It doesn’t matter what that girl does. The point is that she does it all and feels good doing it. However, I felt exhausted.
That girl doesn’t merely live her life. She performs the act of living, and maintaining two full-time jobs isn’t sustainable.
When we fall into the trap of taking an already curated image and trying to fit ourselves into it because we assume it is easier that way. According to the principle of social proof, we tend to believe that the right way of doing something is determined by how other people around us are doing it. It’s a heuristic , a mental shortcut that shows us how to deal with challenging situations.
There is no one right way to live your life. Finding out what makes you content is a tedious, ever-changing job. It is not a one night decision, and it shouldn’t be.
In my very first marketing class this year, my professor said everyone has a distinct personal brand. It was then I realized that images matter to a point that we do anything and everything to have one that is already glamorous and girlboss-y. Trying to fit into these trends derails us from finding our own routine.
So who is that girl? Over the summer, I realized it doesn’t really matter. Because behind every unattaiable image is just another woman trying to figure herself out. I’m ready to take time and space to forget her and figure out who I am.