I am not trendy.
I am not trendy...
You know how those tacky high school drama movies portray middle and high school as the “formative” years of your life where you figure out “who you are”? Well, as exaggerated as those movies can be, they’re not all wrong.
Those years definitely play a crucial role in building our personality shaping our behaviour with the world, which is largely influenced by the people around us. One of the craziest things I faced during that period was the noise of trends.
I’ve never been honest about this before so I’m going to try my level best to put it down in words.
For as long as I can remember, the pressure of having to keep up with trends has haunted me. Every month it was something new. It was either Zara's new spring collection coming up with some exotic dress worn by some model in some fantastic fashion show or a new song that everyone couldn't get enough of. These trends were so dynamic. One after the other, there was something new: a new artist that I hadn't heard of or some new cosmetic that I didn't care enough about to look up but everyone had an opinion on. Not just that, celebrity outfits at different award functions were widely talked about, and YouTuber drama was another thing I just couldn't understand.
Now from afar, this doesn’t seem like much of a problem, maybe you’ve never experienced it as an issue and that’s great, but when this obliviousness leads to social exclusion, it becomes a problem.
Why did trends matter? I asked myself. Well, they didn't matter to me, but it did matter to other people: people who I spent so much time with, whose opinions and judgements were important to me. I felt a bit like an outsider. The need to fit in and be included in conversations pressured me to keep up with trends to a certain extent. But the truth is that I just didn't care. I didn't care about fashion, cosmetics, celebrity drama, influential personalities on Instagram or songs that I couldn't vibe to. Then why did I waste so much time trying to fit in? Social acceptance. I needed it, I wanted to be a part of conversations and build better bonds with my friends. Honestly, I don't think my limited knowledge of these different trends impacted my bonds with them in any way. Even after knowing this, I think the pressure still had a grip on me.
But gradually, I came to realise that my indifference to these things brought a unique perspective to the table. Surprisingly, my opinion on trends wasn’t dismissed. A lot of people even agreed with me and that feeling was far better than the meagre satisfaction of feigning interest. And it's all because I embraced authenticity.
I believe that trends evoke our herd mentality: a behaviour arising from our evolutionary need to belong, that many industries and influencers cash in on.
Does anyone ever think about the emotional impact this has on the people excluded from the herd?
Think about that chubby girl who couldn’t fit into that scarf top trending all over Instagram.
Think about that boy who was jokingly disparaged for his “bad” taste in music.
Or that kid who was picked on for not knowing what boba tea is. (You can think of a lot more examples, I’m sure)
Our actions subtly yet impactfully reinforce these trends and unknowingly hurt people. So let’s put our money where our mouth is and stop demeaning people for having different preferences and accept our diversity. The only place trends should be followed is the stock market because there, you can actually make some money off of it.
We all do this at some point in our lives. Just to please a certain group of people or a person, we completely ditch our own preferences and form opinions on their latest interests to feel included and appreciated.
But here's why that's so messed up. Trends keep coming and going and if you need to educate yourself on trends to be appreciated by someone, you're literally changing yourself at the same frequency of the trends.
I won't lie, even today I'm not free from this pressure, but now I'm more aware. I choose to pay more attention to and stand by the things I value rather than the dynamism of industries that never interested me.
I think this practice is a great way of developing inclusive communities and so I hope you’ll do the same<3