Originality is Dead and it’s Probably Fine

(Okay, so it’s been approximately a million years since I updated here. Life went insane. I’m going to start cross-posting on Medium. I have an Instagram as of a day ago. You should shouldn’t follow it.)

I’ve basically been trying to make peace with the fact that I am not actually, you know, Original or Creative In Actuality for as long as I can remember, or at least since the moment it struck me. The moment in question isn’t one I can remember, but it was probably around the time I started going on Rookie and realized that I was not the specialist snowflake in the whole world just because I was the only one in my middle school who liked feminism and glitter. That, in fact, there were millions of girls exactly like me, with the same interests and talents and self-deprecating sense of humor. But also not like me at all, because they were doing it better than I could ever have dreamed. I was not a snowflake, I was a raindrop that made up an ocean. This hasn’t really changed as I’ve gotten older, even if the trends have. The second I, for instance, decide that I quite like how tattoo chokers look is a second before I discover that everyone else decided that too. Somehow this managed to continue even throughout the latter part of middle school and early high school, where I avoided all my mother’s fashion magazines and any fashion blogs in the hopes that maybe I’d discover my “true” style. Somehow I still managed to fall for septum piercings and army jackets (in my defense, the septum piercing thing is due to the astounding amount of girls I’ve crushed on who had them and the whole army jacket thing can be laid at the feet of Hackers).

And it’s not like this is actually a bad thing. God knows I have worse traits, like a seriously worrying narcissistic streak and a tendency to monologue. I mean, we all know in the bottom of our hearts that in our truly globalized world there’s nothing you could do that would genuinely count as “out there”, short of perhaps sewing yourself a shawl out of baby clothes and going everywhere on a Segway and there’s probably someone with a bajillion followers on Instagram who’s doing just that. While I’m sure that generations after us will be able to easily create a mental picture in their minds of what the 2010’s style is, at the moment I have to say it kind of feels like it’s everything at once. Things change too quickly for anyone to have enough time to be counterculture, unless you’re prepared to play style musical chairs eight times a year. Subcultures are just cultures once there’s enough people who are a part of them and right now that’s basically every subculture. And I’m sure this is where people are saying “Marguerite, you silly bald goose of a weirdo, that just means you shouldn’t quantify style. Invent your own personal way of expressing yourself and you’ll never have to worry about being just like everyone else” and this is also where I respond with quite possibly the most existentially depressing thing I’ve ever written (and that includes every single poem I wrote in middle school);

No one has a truly personal way of expressing themselves.

Think about it. No human is a completely solitary and independent creature, unless you have my dream job of professional hermit and in that case I’d like to give you my resume. We get new ideas from other people, have those we wish to emulate, absorb new ideas every second without even realizing it. When I was a freshman I met a beautiful angel/senior who worked at Hot Topic and beneath her permanently-tousled cloud of purple hair was a load of black eyeliner and a septum piercing. As I awkwardly pined after her, desperately wishing to both be as beautiful as her and also be her weird short girlfriend, I defined what septum piercings would mean to me. Things have meaning because we give them meaning; that’s the basis of linguistics, economics and any sort of literary analysis. It also, when you’re in the right state of mind, can be the single most depressing thing that anyone has ever told you. A side effect of this is that our definitions (both personal ones and ones others teach us) become a sort of reference point. In style this means that your way of dressing or presenting yourself is a sort of stew of what you’ve seen before and how you’ve altered it to fit your purposes. So, especially in the kind of world we live in where finding people just like you is only a few clicks away, it’s easy to get down on yourself for feeling like maybe you’re just following the trends without even realizing it.

But here’s the thing- just because maybe there’s someone (or a bunch of someone’s) out there rocking the same look as you doesn’t mean that you aren’t one of a kind. You are the only you that’s ever existed. The fact that there might be people out there infinitely similar to you isn’t something to be mad about, it’s something to keep in mind when you feel alone. There’s at least one other person out there who’s fascinated by the different sounds made by different species of whales, or who loves how avocado-puke-green and fuschia look together. And if there’s a lot of people out there who love the things that you genuinely love too? Then it doesn’t matter if it’s popular. No one’s going to take away your Super Special Cool Person Card (a card that I assume exists, mainly because I don’t have one and that seems about right) if you like something “mainstream”. Combine it with everything else you love and fuck anyone who judges you for whatever you try to do. It’s just clothing/makeup/perfume. If you change your mind in a month, you can ditch it, chop it all up into new pieces, try something new with the same products, whatever. Just promise to have fun in the meantime. It’s the least you can do.

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