“This I Believe” by Talia Harris

For as long as I have been creative, I have been frightened; frightened of what people will think of me, frightened of what I will create, and frightened of who this little girl inside of me thinks she is. When I started ballet training, I thought I was going to wake up that morning and have a perfect bun, a perfect black leotard, and have perfect technique. Things didn’t quite end up playing out like that though, because when I walked through The Studio’s door, I realized it was going to be harder to get on top than I thought it would be. There were a dozen other girls in the room with a perfect bun, a perfect black leotard, and perfect technique. But there was one different thing about them and me. They all had friends there and I didn’t.

Those ballet classes made me realize that the people I appreciate were not your average picket-fence people. I then realized how odd I was, and how lucky I was to be that odd. I realized that when I was in social situations, I pretended to be someone that I am not and was not. I pretended to be normal, and this led to me having false friendships that didn’t end well. But they were my most valuable friendships, because they taught me everything I should not do, and they taught me to be myself. But sometimes I still catch myself pretending to be someone that I am not. In fact, most of the time I am doing this without knowing that I am, and it frightens me. I pretend to be like the people around me, I pretend to be like whoever I am talking to. But in the moments that I was not pretending, I made wonderful and amazing friends who like me for who I am. I realized that if you took everything away from them, they would cut up a plastic bag and wear it around town wearing it and acting as though it had just come off the runway in London. I love my friends for who they are, not who they want to be.

I love them almost as much as I love my shoes. I know that this is cruel, but my shoes have my life on them and in them. They have my ideas scrawled on them in my messy handwriting that only I can read. They have my doodles and thoughts and feelings on them. They have the little things that are important to me on them, they have the things that I know will make me smile on them. They are covered in my personality. My shoes are what make me who I am. Who cares if they laugh or call you names, who cares if you are tall, short, creative, or absolutely the dullest person on earth, and if people are mean to you about something that you can’t help, don’t try to hide it, embrace it. Make it a bigger part of yourself, let it make you unique. And if someone calls you names about things you can’t help, or puts you down about something that you are proud of, just remember, you are so much better than them, because you don’t put others down to make yourself feel better.

Don’t try to be perfect, because there is no such thing as being perfect, and everyone has a different idea of being perfect. Being perfect is mentally and physically impossible, because being perfect doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to be perfect, you will never be, because being perfect isn’t possible. So stop trying, just be you, be weird, be happy, be energetic, be a bookworm, be flexible, be different, and in a way it is perfect. Being unique and being yourself is the closest to “perfect” you can get. I used to care what others thought of me, I used to try to be perfect and make everyone like me, but then I realized: what’s the point in trying so hard if I don’t like the me that I’ve become? So I stopped trying to make others like me, and I just made me like me.

Don’t be depressed because others don’t like you for you, just switch they way you look at that situation and be happy because that’s a few less people’s names you have to know. I know that being depressed is not something that you can stop, because like all feelings, it demands to be felt, so feel it. But don’t let others words put you in a box, and if they do walk out of their box, embrace who you are and what makes you you.

When I realized who I was, I realized that my shoes were part of what makes me me. Without my shoes I would still be in my depression slump. My shoes are what made me smile, they are what made me who I am today, they helped me find myself. For every bad thing in the world there is something good, so if you are depressed, or sad, or scared, find the light, find the good, find a new adventure to go on. Be happy, eat cake, and celebrate everything good that happens to you and your friends. As Troye Sivan and many other youtube celebrities said, “cut cake not wrists.” Be yourself, be unique, and make yourself happy. Do what makes you feel good about yourself. For me, that was wearing my peach pink, ripped up, and drawn on sneakers everywhere I go.