How to be yourself in 2014.

As a fresh-faced 18 year old in 2009, I remember being racked with nerves when Goldsmiths university summoned me for an interview at their south east London campus. Until then, I’d spent my entire life in the small rural county of Shropshire, where literally nothing exciting has happened since Charles Darwin was born there in 1809 – and no one ever mentions that he escaped the wilderness at the earliest opportunity. I wasn’t cool and I wasn’t well-travelled, or even well-read. How was I supposed to impress a bunch of academics in the big city?

It was my Mum, as always, who gave me the most valuable advice: “just be yourself.” So, instead of pretending to be an aloof artiste (as I had practiced, using Meryl sodding Streep as a muse) – I just accepted myself as an excitable, little goon. And it worked.

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A mere 5 years later, however, being yourself isn’t quite so straightforward. Social media allows us to create entirely different personas from our real world selves and it’s easy to get our various identities confused. On Instagram, for example, we have filters to appear glamourous 24/7 – and you can crop out that damp patch on your bedroom ceiling. But the truth is that nobody is round-the-clock fabulous. We all have those moments when we trip slightly on our way to work or we accidently spit on our crush mid-conversation.

Life is full of not-so-glitzy events and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s how we react to those situations that make up our true selves. Those situations are the stuff of good conversation and those reactions are what can make us seem either loathsome or adorable. You might look stunning with a Sierra filter but I’d find it hard to be attracted to someone who can’t deal with – and laugh at – life’s imperfections.

I guess I’m writing this blog because it took me 21 years to realise that it’s okay for people to know that I’m never going to be cool. I can be geeky, vain, crude, partial to pop culture and excessively polite. I don’t know about cool bands or cool clothes and I certainly don’t spend my weekends at cool warehouse parties. It’s just not me. And since I stopped trying to be someone else’s idea of awesome, I can honestly say I’ve never been happier.

So my point is this: image brand the fuck out of yourself on Twitter et al. but never forget to be a real life, bona fide, full-of-flaws person. If you’re really brave you could even take a chance and be a little less perfect on the internet, especially as there’s a generation right behind us who are going to have some pretty unrealistic expectations of the world.

Life is more than being cool and, to end on a hearty cliché, nobody does you better than you.

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Dear Internet, I am not a chode.

Starting a new blog is never a particularly pleasant experience. It’s a bit like your first day in the office when you want your colleagues to see how cool and ‘together’ you are, but when you speak you just end up sounding like an over-enthusiatic goon, or you make an entirely inappropriate joke in which you equate eczema to parmesan and then you notice the girl you’re speaking to rolling her sleeves down to hide the actual real-life eczema on her arms. That happened to me once. Of course, as with any digital medium, you do have the ability to edit an introductory blog post, but to that I ask: what’s the point? In the words of the mighty Bey, “Perfection is…hm.”

The internet is rife with seemingly perfect people. Instagram filters allow us to make ourselves and our surroundings seem constantly flawless, follower-counts on Twitter can deem us Z-list celebrities and Facebook – well, we can ignore Facebook; Facebook is so 2009. The internet (the world) does not need another perfect person, so I have no problem starting this blog and knowing that I might just sound like a complete and utter cock. I just hope I’m a reasonably likeable one – a pleasing 7 incher rather than a grubby little chode, if you will.

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Now, as much as I’d love to appear ‘edgey’ – I did spend 3 years at Goldsmiths Uni, you know – I can’t ignore the fact that you may have absolutely no idea who I am or why my inane thoughts might interest you enough to come back to my little piece of cyberspace. So, I best tell you about myself, which I’ll do in the most quick and painless way I know how: bullet points.

  • I’m a trainee accountant by day (yawn-but-kerching) and a writer by night (yay-but-can’t-afford-shoes).
  • I’m interested in people. We all put some pretty bizarre projections of ourselves out there in the public domain but there’s nothing quite like cracking that shell and finding out someone’s backstory. It’s never boring and it’s never without hardship. Everyone should make more of an effort to be interested in people.
  • I’m proud to have had my writing published in Europe’s best selling gay magazine, Attitude, where I worked in-house for a few months but essentially ballsed up because I had one of them there quarter life crises. I’ve also had a few pieces commissioned by The Guardian, which has been nice.
  • I believe that you can be shallow and deep at the same time. I don’t have time for people tweeting “I hate materialism.” on their iPhones. Liking shiny possessions does not a bad person make.
  • Vanity is my sin. All creatives must at some point face the fact that they want to be known for their work because they think their work is good. I think my work is good, but I also understand that at 22 years old I have an insanely huge amount to learn. It’s also vanity that leads me to post selfies on Instagram – #realtalk #teamgay.
  • I am currently the happiest I think I’ve ever been. Last year through up some horrible LIFE MOMENTS but today I can say I am truly grateful to have experienced them. For the first time ever I actually understand the importance of just being yourself and making life into your very own adventure.
  • Last but not least, and as you’ve probably already guessed, I’m not a huge fan of boundaries. I like humour, honesty and depth. This blog will lack boundaries. Sorry not sorry.

And that’s me in a nutshell. Sometimes I’ll post ramblings like this on here, other times I’ll vent about the trivial (bad dates, my allergy to chubby children etc.) or the political and sometimes I’ll post whatever hilarious gifs I’ve been looking at instead of doing the day job I’m paid for. So, unless you’re my boss, hopefully you’ll be here again soon.

In a bizzle, homies.

Dan x