Let’s Talk – Identity

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lets talk identityvia (no time to take photos this week!)

I’m learning that most fads and styles are just counter-styles of some other style, as though you are either an example of a particular style or some antithesis of that that style. Classic vs. Modern. Modern vs. Post-Modern. Grunge vs. Metal. Prep vs. Goth. Realism led to Impressionism led to Post-Impressionism. Sometimes life seems less about finding your own identity and more about deciding which societal identity you decide you want to imitate.

This all started when I really started delving deep into the identity of Lorde, one of my favorite artists right now. I mean, putting aside her age (which I think we are all obviously blown away by), the girl is straight-up talented. She gets it. She cuts through the BS injected into our bloodstreams by big brands, celebrities, Hollywood glamour…and it works. It reaches people, and we are suddenly thinking, “Yeah, girl! That’s it! We don’t need that materialistic stuff and pop music, because we’re rocking to our own jam.”

But let’s face it: Lorde’s jam “Royals” is the anthem of art pop. She is, like, Queen B of the Indie Teens right now, actually ruling the fantasy she sings about. There are teenagers out there idolizing her the same way I idolize(d) many musicians, actresses, Dutchesses of Cambridge, etc. I am not saying this a bad thing by any means, because I believe people have this inherent need to relate to others in the world even if it’s someone they’ll never meet or truly know. What it does say, though, is that all these indie, anti-societal-norm individuals out there (namely teenagers) have been waiting for their very own idol who speaks for them, who hears them, who writes what is in their hearts. Enter: Lorde.

crowd-at-coney-island-new-york-photographed-by-arthur-fellig-1940via

She gives us a different fantasy than People Magazine: one of lazy days, good friends, inside jokes, mini daily rebellions, sincerity, not fitting in with “the cool kids.” We can all relate to not fitting in with the cool kids, and that’s why Lorde speaks to all of us. We’ve all felt ostracized and yearned a bit more for acceptance with some group, whether it is the clique we associate with or a clique we want to have acknowledge us. The trick is to not caring that we feel ostracized, and spinning the negative into a positive, as she does in “Royals.”

The irony, obviously, is that Lorde is a cool kid. Really, she is SO COOL. Her nonchalant, artistic, outspoken demeanor makes her (probably) the coolest celebrity out there right now. I am devouring everything she does, and it’s so easy to do because I can see her as an actual human being. The human aspect of her celebrity fame is what totally seals the deal for me on who she is as an artist, but also as a real person.

I love Lady Gaga, too, and while I think the two artists are similar in their messages and objectives, Gaga can seem so anonymous and overly devoted to herself as an art form. Sometimes I forget that there is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in there and not just this artist/activist putting on the greatest show in the world through everything she does. Yes, “Lorde” is also a stage name, but I can see the human being underneath her alias, and that is the person that I believe she is sharing with the world. At the young age of sixteen, she has her identity figured out and she’s speaking her mind.

put it onvia

I would be the first to tell you I don’t fully know my own identity. I will tell you that I know parts of my identity, and I know what I like and don’t like, but for the most part I am not fully aware about “who I am.” But I think “feeling like I don’t know my identity” is an illusion, because I can feel it in my heart when I’m not being true to myself. I know when I lie to someone to pretend I know something they’re talking about; I recognize the instant that I’m buying something because it’s trendy or looks good on a mannequin even though I fully know it will not look good on me; I sometimes hear myself saying things that aren’t the fullest expression of my actual thoughts because I’m intimidated by being so vocal and outspoken about something I really believe, so I water it down in case I’m offending someone.

The reality is this: I know my identity, but there is a barrier inside me preventing me from being confident in what I portray to the world. It’s a problem, and I recognize that, and I’m working on expressing my true identity more and more with each day…and this is a hard thing to do. Why is it so hard? Personally, I think it’s because there are all these influential, really cool, I-want-to-be-your-best-friend people in the world that I am exposed to all the time that sometimes I lose myself among all the “prime” examples of how a life is supposed to be lived. The reality is, my life is my own life, and no one will be living it but me. I define who I am, and the more articulately and genuinely I do that, the clearer my soul will be to all the world.

This is what I believe Lorde does and what she represents, and that is why I think she kicks so much ass. She is so in-tune to herself and her beliefs that people are almost taken aback, like, “How is this girl so confident?!,” and it is intoxicating be around someone so fully aware of their identity. For some reason, it seems so rare in this day and age. My only hope is that all her fans out there recognize that she is worth emulating because she shares her truest self with the world and we should all be our truest selves to the world, instead of fans emulating what Lorde does, thinks, believes, or wears because they are things Lorde does, thinks, believes, or wears and they want to be like her. I hope that makes sense.

So, while this post is sort of long and rambling, I hope you take some time with yourself and think about how you can show more of yourself to the world. The world deserves to know the real you, and you are the only one who can share that (ok, that sounds like an elementary school inspirational poster, but sometimes those things are truthful).

What advice would you share with someone struggling to express their identity? Share it in the comments section!

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