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Personal, Thoughts

Authentic Self

April 21, 2020

What others think of you shouldn’t matter too much, but yet it does. It matters, the words echo in your mind like the voice of a distant friend or perhaps, nemesis. On some level, we all seek some form of validation and acceptance from others. We do somewhat care about being likeable, don’t we? 

I came to terms with knowing I did not give off a grand first impression many years ago. It comes with dressing the way I do or carrying yourself in any manner that isn’t expected. I almost always wear a red lip, slip on a pair of heels and carry with me some extravagant hat. And I am aware, it could come off as ‘stuck up’, but I’m not – I promise.  My first language is English, which on this island is often considered to be the language used among the more pretentious, oddly enough. That too has invited odd stares or snarky comments, although my non-Maltese accent may be to blame too. And then there’s my job – which also often stands out as being reserved for a certain group of people. Art is often thought to be reserved for the privileged. And maybe my resting bitch face is also a concern. I do smile at anyone who’ll approach me, but I tend to walk around looking as pissed as ever sometimes… or at least I’ve been told. 

I’ll be honest – I don’t truly, deeply care about anyone’s opinion unless they exit the lips of anyone I strongly value. You know – a close friend, a partner, or a creative soul I’ve long looked up to. And even then, you must take those words with a grain of salt. Oh the lessons I’ve learnt over the years… the ones taught to me by the jealous friends or the intimidated partners. I can assure you, we’ve all had those. And if you’re a woman? The world will rarely congratulate you, so please do find solace in recognising your own worth. 

I also find it odd to see so many people judge strongly upon a first impression. Don’t get me wrong – first impressions count. You choose to dress and carry yourself in a way that tells a snippet of your story, your facade is the cover to the many pages filled with thought-provoking words within you. But it isn’t everything – and if you ever decide you know a person by that very cover, then you are really no more than shallow or inexperienced. I say this because most of the people I surround myself with today were unpredictable and discrete at first; they carried themselves with such poise and an element of mystery or intrigue. They were not overly friendly or even approachable, but they were interesting. I worked to get to know most of the people who are dear to me; it wasn’t much of a miraculous connection that happened by chance, as the movies often depict. 

I’ve been approached by people who said they thought I looked stuck up before getting to know me, intimidating, or difficult to please. They thought I was rich, or seek to live a life of only luxury. I’ve had close friends tell me they’ve been approached by others who ask what it is like to be a friend of mine – am I nice? It weirds me out, slightly – yet I also understand it, because I’ve heard these same comments be passed about my own friends too – the individuals who had a tough outer shell to break at first, but proved to be worth every effort. 

So here I sit, in my most authentic self; with very little to hide behind. I’m a determined creative but not an intimidating one, I promise you that. I am embarrassingly goofy, clumsy, and find the laughable aspect in almost anything. I most certainly am the klutz in my friend group. I’m also very talkative, and I’ll speak of anything that interests me in great depth and length. I don’t shy away from my thoughts and I’ll very eagerly voice them, but I also am the introvert who quietens in any group environment that does not solely consist of the people I love the most. It is true that I love to dress, and I’ll dress carefully for almost any occasion – the walk to my corner shop too.  I also greatly admire anyone who carries themselves with such care; but I don’t criticise those who don’t. And no, my friends don’t all care about fashion in the way I do. That doesn’t matter to me, as opposed to popular belief. Social media might be my work and my passion, but it isn’t all of me. There’s much more to me than what you see on my Instagram feed, I can promise you that, just as there is with anyone else. So I implore you to take that into account the next time you feel you’ve formed an opinion based on social media. 

Natalya Vukovic