In this piece, I wanted to explore the idea of self-identity and perception. I remember once reading that “identity is comprised of three main facets: who we think we are, who we want others to think we are, and who others think we are”. I don’t really know what I’m doing most of the time and I rarely have original thoughts (so take this next paragraph with a grain of salt), but I feel like most people, especially myself, have been driven by the second and third facets our entire lives. A valuable lesson I had to learn recently is that people are never going to perceive you the way you want to be perceived, and you have to let go of the fantasy of trying to fit an ideal, whether it be through beauty standards, race, gender, or external pressures in general. Once you let go, a process I’m still working through, I believe you can live a healthier, less restrictive life. Yes, outward perception is an inescapable thing, but instead of forcing yourself to mold into a standard, or attempting to present yourself under a guise of normalcy, you can use it to express yourself creatively. For example, lately, I’ve been viewing my appearance and features differently. Instead of styling my body or face to fit a gendered and Eurocentric beauty ideal, I’ve seen my body as more of an accessory that I can use to express creativity and have fun with. This viewpoint has increased my self-confidence and allowed myself to become happier with myself. In general, I think a big part of maturing for me has been letting go of mindsets ingrained in me since childhood, things that I wasn’t even consciously aware of. What do you guys think?