Or so I thought.
Enter reality (aka college). My freshman year roommate was a gorgeous, vivacious Korean chick named Christine. We got along great. We decorated our rooms together and shared everything. It was evident from day one that she was a popular, social butterfly. She immediately made tons of close friends, had 10+ messages waiting for her at the end of the day, and our room would always be visited by people --wanting to chat with her. Although I made a handful of really good friends (whom I'm still friends with present day), I wasn't the cool person that she was (or rather, the cool person I viewed her to be). She and her friends listened to hip-hop/pop music and I didn't. They smoked and drank socially, and I didn't. She went clubbing and and enjoyed the NYC nightlife, and I didn't (not yet at least). I suddenly felt like I've been missing out on life for some reason. It wasn't that I was jealous nor did I want to be her. It was more like she was the independent, self-assured person that I thought I was. As it turned out, I totally felt out of it. I lost my sense of self, and I didn't know how to deal with it.
The first thing I did was expand my wardrobe. Prior to college, I had my own unique style. I shopped at a lot of thrift stores (before it became fashionable), wore lots of dresses and skirts over tights and jeans, wore lots of black, and was considered to be artsy and creative. I only had 4 types of shoes: my trusty Doc Martens and 3 others pairs of black shoes (mary janes, workboots, and clogs). But compared to my roommate, I felt dated. I started to buy clothes like hers (trendy with a twist) and even asked her which stores she recommended. I also loved her jeans so I asked her to buy the same kind of jeans she had. So she had her mom buy them for me. Then she cut her hair short which I really liked. But I wasn't about to cut mine. A few months later, however, I basically ended up with a short hair style similar to hers (it was actually a lot shorter than I told the hairstylist, but what can you do). I picked up smoking, worked on my alcohol tolerance, and started to go out as well. I began to make Filipino friends (as I didn't have a lot of close Filipino friends in high school) and hung-out with them a lot. These new Filipino friends also had the same pop-culture tastes (read: mainstream) as Christine did. I boxed up all my old CDs: gone were The Cure, The Smiths, The Clash, and in with The Fugees, Biggie, and other hip-hop/R&B artists (most of whom turned out to be just one-hit-wonders: Queen Pen, anyone?). I felt like I had so much catching up to do since I wanted to fit into "the scene."
I didn't even realize I was copying Christine until I overheard a conversation between her and her friend Nicole. Nicole basically said "look, she's copying you. You guys have the same jeans, she cut her hair like you, and she's always looking at your clothes. I think she's trying to be you! Hahahah..."
Ouch. But like I said, I never wanted to be her. She just happened to personify what I thought I should be in order to feel like I "fit in." What Nicole said put things in perspective, but by then, I already had adopted this "new me" and I was letting go of "old me." College has a way of hazing you whether you are trying out for a sorority or not. I decided to go with "new me" and became one of the crowd. I broke up with the boyfriend (which is another story altogether) and started dating this Filipino guy (who turned out to be such a big-time asshole --again, another story altogether). I went to parties with my new Filipino friends, danced away to hip-hop music, and became your normal, average college chick. Inside though, I felt like I closed the doors on my old personality.
Of course the choices I made more than 10 years ago made me who I am today. Now, I've reconciled "old me" with "new me" and realized that "real me" is an amalgam of all my traits, passions, choices, and tastes as it evolved over the years. I realized that most of me never changed all along. It's all just under the rubric of "growing up." I'm still a music geek (and a fan of all genres), still a bookworm, still have a passion for writing, and back to dressing the way I want to dress. I learned that you should never compare yourself to anyone.
I am who I am. And I most certainly am not about to cop someone else's style. I like my own, thank you very much.
Labels: musings/personal stories