I questioned a lot of things as a teenager. I felt I didn’t fit in the world I was in. I had questions nobody could answer, and even feelings no one could relate to. The adults were too far to reach out to, while those girls and guys my age were concerned about what I thought were stupid things. I broke a lot of what was considered the norm back then.
While some of my friends wore branded clothes that their parents bought for them, I had to rely on creativity to look cool, because I only got new clothes during my birthday or Christmas. I remember standing out a few times with people asking me where I got my clothes, thinking I paid a high price for it.
I will never forget what I wore on my Junior prom. Since I wanted to look different, I saw this photo of a punk rocker on a fashion magazine. She was wearing this black bustier dress with the bottom of the dress that looked like white lace petals. I wanted it so bad because I knew nobody will have that kind of a dress. I brought the magazine with me to the dressmaker and said that I wanted exactly what was on the picture. Well … he did a great job! In fact, I really thought my dress looked better than the one on the magazine. There was one problem, though. Because the bottom of the dress were layers of white tulle cut into petal forms, the side of the dress was not only too short but really showing almost everything. I decided to wear white tights underneath and again, thought it was the coolest outfit.
The night of the prom came and when my dad saw me, he was bewildered. “Where’s your shawl?” he asked. I said I didn’t have any. I don’t remember anymore how I was allowed to leave, if he got a jacket for me to wear or if I sneaked out. Nevertheless, I made it to the venue and got everyone’s attention. One of my classmates said, “you look like a fairy”; another one said, “you look like a spider”. Of course, the guys were looking at my white tights and my bustier top. I didn’t care about anyone else’s opinion. I felt good about my outfit and that’s what mattered.
You see, if I were a teenager today and wore that same dress, I will go viral on social media.
Back then (that was 1983-1984), anything unconventional was either gossiped about or no one wanted to say anything.
At 51 turning 52, I’m in the process of redefining my life to make it more simple but powerful, more streamlined but effective. In this journey I’ve realized what the pressures of adulthood has done to me, and how the younger generation has been a source of inspiration, in a lot of ways, to bring me back to who I really am, the way God created me to be.
May you learn from what I’m going to share with you.
My profession as a Life and Career Coach has given me a lot of insights about our young adults that actually brought me back to my own journey as a young person then. The only difference is their access to all the new gadgets and technology that didn't exist during my time. I already had my own business when the 'pager' came out.
In my conversations with one of my young clients, I learned that most people her age don’t even have any rules about fashion. They create the trend. There is no genre. They wear what they want to wear and it becomes ‘fashion’. They walk and breathe in their own skin, not mindful of what others say about them.
I look at their social media and their spontaneity makes them so real. Back in my days, we didn’t even know how our pictures will come out. We have either 24 or 36 rolls and you have to wait for the film to get developed before you can even see how you look like. There were no deleting or retouching photos. I guess this taught me how to be so calculating in my poses because I only had 24 or 36 chances, and I had to make those shots work.
We look at these young people and think that they are so full of themselves, but really ...
are we just envious of their carefree attitude?
Parents come to me complaining that their kids don’t have any direction or vision, but when I talk to these young adults, they blow my mind on the ideas they have. It sounds so unconventional, yet, in this day and age, these unconventional ideas are the ones that sell. We box them into what we believe success should be, forgetting that what will bring about their success is doing what they are passionate about.
It took a streamlining process for me to see these Millennials in a different light.
Honestly, I didn’t know I would need to utilize my social media to build a brand for my business. I’ve had Facebook since 2009 and joined Instagram two years ago, but only for personal use. I maintained a business account, but simply for social media presence, or at least to say that my business is on social media. But to use my social media for my brand is something I’ve ignored.
As a business, I didn't even think about branding at all. I thought promoting my services is what it takes to make it succeed. And because I offer a variety of services ranging from Professional Writing to Coaching to Motivational Speaking, I didn't know how to label my business. It was only when I began to streamline that I finally felt the need to create a brand. Still, I didn't know what brand to use. I then began to research and browsed through the sites of social media influencers.
What I saw caught my attention and reminded me of my youth and how carefree I was.
It pulled me back to examine myself and ask: "Who really are you and what do you represent?" Actually, it was my eldest son who gave me that light bulb moment. I was consulting him about an outfit I wore in one of my photos and told him that I didn’t really like the outfit, but had to wear it because “I was told” that corporate photo outfits should be plain.
He said, “Mom, never do that again. Just do you. You are the brand.”
I am the brand!
It took a while for this to sink in.
Being an adult, more so a Christian, made me think that I can’t do me … that is so self-centered, so full of yourself.
But then I realized that I am really the brand. It’s not my business. It’s me! It’s what I can do and who I really am. People will only buy what I offer if they see who I am … and if they like what they see … not the kind of liking that will make them idolize me but the kind of liking that will make them say,
“I feel her. I can relate.”
When I came to terms with this, the process of streamlining and branding slowly came to place. And, it was in this process when I started appreciating and learning from the younger generation.
They are the experts in self-help, really. They figure things out for themselves. They use their own phones and cameras to take their own photos and videos and the result is simply amazing. They are experts in DIYs too. Their creativity is unstoppable.
Thank you, Millennials for what you’ve taught me.
Thank you for reminding me of my own creativity. Thank you for bringing back a part of my youth. Thank you for confirming to me that each of us were created uniquely by God, and that no one can change that. Thank you for refreshing my mind that as parents, our role is to help our children become the persons who God created them to be.
May all of you parents and adults learn from what I’ve learned.
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