*Disclaimer* This article may be a bit wordy, but bear with me. It’s important.

If I have learned anything in the past year, it is that everyone has their own idea of perfection. However, it is sometimes difficult to look past the goals and accomplishments of others, of those we revere, or even those we do not, in order to realize that who we are, and in turn what we want, may differ entirely from what we are made to think we want. In an age where technology pervades almost every facet of everyday life, it is easy to assume that whatever image the media sells, whether it be a certain look, a certain personality, or a certain end-goal, is the image we should desire. It becomes the norm.

This may all seem a bit dismal, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This ‘norm’ faces a wake-up call. It is, in fact, not the norm at all. The only common denominator between all of us is that we are all different. We all have different goals, different concepts of beauty, different sexual orientations, different approaches to health, different hobbies, different ideals in relationships… the list goes on. We all do things differently, and that’s okay. What really matters is what you want for yourself, and how you think you will best achieve what you want. What doesn’t matter is how you get there, so long as you do. 

Channing Cook

So why, then, should we even attempt to live up to the ‘norm’? By doing so, the only thing that is accomplished is neglecting our true selves. We try to fit a mold we simply can’t squeeze into, but were never meant to fit in the first place. Why am I done caring about what people think? Because I owe it to myself to be myself.

I owe it to myself to be happy in my own skin, and I owe it to others to accept that they may be happy in theirs. I'm going to accept the quirks and the bad habits as, more simply, parts of a person. And those parts don't have to be viewed so negatively. Let's be honest, we all tolerate certain qualities our siblings or closest friends may have because we love them, and they do the same for us. I, myself, ramble on relentlessly about even the most trivial problems, and I know it can get annoying. I still have friends though (I think). My best friend once made a hobby of making dream catchers out of old hangers and dental floss. Definitely weird, but she's still my best friend. 

Channing Cook

(In case you were wondering, this is my dental-floss-weaving friend).

So, l propose that we all stop giving a f*ck and just accept our differences as uniquely beautiful, and universally acceptable. Let's all be done caring. We all have our secretly strange habits or hobbies, but for some reason we're still caught up in upholding this 'norm'. We conceal what makes us strange, different, and, ultimately, interesting. Anyone can tell a compelling story, and yes, that may draw people in, but it's our weirdness that keeps them coming.

Channing Cook

In short, there is no single approach to anything, and it's important to realize that what you want may be entirely different from what everyone else wants. So long as I, along with everyone else, am being myself, and holding myself to my highest standards, then I know I’ll be the most genuine version of me. It’s time to realize that happiness and individuality go hand in hand.