Self-expression has often been wrongfully reserved for the likes of rock and roll, punk, and radical societal rejects. Self-expression, by all definitions, is the portrayal of one’s personality. Whether that be through behaviour, poetry, body modification, music.
As someone whose passion is helping both friends and strangers find empowerment through personal vulnerability and embodying the confidence to be yourself fearlessly - I find it to be a much deeper running issue than just ‘personality’. Being self-expressed through words, hair, or your clothes is a character-defining choice and allows people to envy and accept the totality of you as a person.
I have advocated self-expression for as long as I can remember, through this I’ve found that a lot of individuals fear showing this kind of vulnerability to other people, especially those who may take it upon themselves to judge and knock down any kind of self-positivity.
I grew up surrounded by closed minded people who would mock my appearance and sense of style. I had to realise at a young age that not everyone will accept you for who you are if you do not fit into their ideas of what a young, teenage girl should look and act like.
I had the privilege of growing up with a group of friends who had the same opinions as me, and every day, to this day, we challenge these old-fashioned stereotypes, whether it be through body modification, absurd hair styles, or clothing choices. Who are we if not our truest selves?
I refused to be made the butt of a joke to people who were too narrow-minded to appreciate my opinions of what people should be allowed to do with their bodies.
Why should I tolerate your nuclear views if you will not even hear my own? It is not this easy for everyone, I know this. This is why I feel so lucky to have found a community in which I feel wholeheartedly accepted as the person I am.
It’s so hard to get up every day, in a small-minded town, surrounded by smaller minded people, and tell the world that I’m gay and non-binary. But by refusing to fall into gender roles and societal expectations, I’m helping to pave the way for younger, questioning people who are struggling the same way I did.
The people I have met along my journey to becoming my most authentic self have taught me patience, love, tolerance, and acceptance. Although we cannot force people to see us for who we really are, we can peacefully advocate a more welcoming, accepting community for those who need it most, which is why self-expression is such a vital part of anyone’s growth.
How are we to grow as people if we feel we aren’t allowed to reflect who we really are in the way we choose to present ourselves?
Having the confidence to express myself the way I do is such a powerful feeling. After years of suppressing myself, I’m finally in a place where I feel at peace with who I am, and who people see me as. Being yourself isn’t as easy as ‘just do it’. It takes a lot of mental strength to grow thick enough skin to be able to brush off comments and opinions about your appearance and yourself in general.
I feel so lucky that I had the right people in my life at the right time. People who were happy to work with me in my self-refection and support me in being able to be vulnerable in my own skin. I struggled a lot trying to get to where I am now, but my support system was so vital in my growth, and I’m so appreciative of being taught about normalising self-expression.
My utopia would be a world where no one is made to conform to a few secluded boxes. Children are much better at expressing themselves than adults are. Children are the future and should be prioritised in terms of how we want our society to age. I think we can collectively recognise the desire to be a carefree child again.
Achieve that by caring less about what others or society thinks of you and caring more about making your happiness the priority. It’s today’s children who will shape tomorrow’s future. It is so important that we give them a platform to be whoever they desire to be. It’s never too late to break away from the boxes we’ve been put in and express yourself in any way you want to.
Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as being stuck somewhere you don’t belong.
River Johnson - Lord St Store Leader