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This week’s iTunuSpeaks is a reminder to all the Fan-Girls out there that admiring someone does not mean you can’t be yourself… 

HELLO, my name is Itunu and I am a Fan-Girl. It started when I was a child. Being surrounded by older cousins and family friends meant there was always someone to look up to. I admired how slick the older girls’ edges were and how they wore gigantic gold hoop earrings with no fear; and the infectious charisma of the older boys. Before I knew it, I had earnt Fan-Girl status, just not in the way we usually associate it with band members and bestselling book serials.

There’s a proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child,” and I guess I am a product of that self-fulfilling prophecy. Coming from a community of elders who were in equal parts inspiring and aspirational, I had a lot to Fan-Girl about. There is one thing I realise in hindsight, however; in aspiring to be like everyone else I was disregarding what I had to offer.

I always wanted to be like other people. Everyone, in my eyes, was better than me. They were everything that I wanted to be with a sprinkle of fabulous grades and nice shoes. Like a younger sibling would look up to an older sibling, that is how I looked up to these people. It was not a case of envy, but unwavering admiration that whispered “one day you’ll be just like them”.

Recently, I’ve begun to challenge my inner Fan-Girl. Why do I want to be like them when I can just be a better version of myself?

Another well-known saying; “be yourself, everyone else is taken,” is also one of the most overused quotes and rightly so. Often, our inner Fan-Girl can just confirm our anxieties that we are not good enough. Rather than her organisation inspiring you to be organised, it reminds you of every single all-nighter you’ve pulled and how messy your room is. Instead of his confidence inspiring you to build yours, it reminds you how awkward and insecure you are.

“In aspiring to be like everyone else, I was disregarding what I had to offer” 

It is normalised in our society to encourage people to copy the positive things they see others do. Although I agree with that, I want to put forth a disclaimer. There is nothing wrong with admiring people and wanting to emulate them but don’t hold someone to such a high pedestal that you begin to feel inadequate. Understand that everyone is gifted and talented in different areas, so ask for advice, yes, but take it with a pinch of salt and remember that you also have skills that will benefit others.

Maybe organisation is your problem and someone tells you that they have 10 different notebooks and planners to organise their time. That’s great for them but maybe just one planner will work for you; use their advice but adapt it in a way that will benefit you. Sure, imitation is the highest form of flattery, but copying in a way that works for you also brings the highest form of efficiency and happiness.

So, my name is Itunu and I am fan-girl but I’m coming to a place where I appreciate the beauty in others without letting it take away the beauty within myself- and my goodness is that a great place to be.