I remember back around 2005 when I befriended someone who I thought was really cool, until they called me a "creeper" because I took photos of their partner's band at a local show. I remember feeling ashamed of myself and despite knowing what I was doing was really special, I started to believe there really was something wrong with me. Why else did I feel alone in a sea of people, or why was I constantly comparing my reflection to that of the girl standing at the sink next to me? Why did I have such a hard time finding a group of friends that would stick by me, and why did I feel like I wasn't good enough to be invited to hang out? In my now mid-thirties, I can successfully say I've found the secret to fitting in. Spoiler alert: you don't. What you do is stop chasing after people who clearly don't accept you the way you are. Go forth and be your unapologetic self; you'll be surprised what happens. In time, you'll find other weirdos, freaks, dweebs, dorks, nerds, losers, geeks, punks (okay you get the picture), and you'll create your own tribe who wouldn't dream of you being anyone but the real you. Being surrounded by the right people can transform the person you are. I'm no longer trying to portray the hip, trendy influencer/content creator persona that social media demands from me to be in order to be "successful." Measuring success for me has little to do with the number of likes on my feed and has everything to do with how my work makes people feel. So now, what you see is what you get. I'm no longer pushing myself to be or pursue anything that doesn't feel authentic to who I really am. Life is short and we're the ones in control, we just have to believe we're capable.
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