As cliche as it sounds, “It’s not a phase, Mom!” is a phrase that is dropped from the mouths of tweens and teens across the globe on a regular basis. I’ve certainly said it. Why? Because as we grow and change throughout our adolescent years, we constantly reinvent ourselves, whether we realize it or not.
In mainstream media, one of the most prevalent positive messages that young people are exposed to is to be yourself. While this is amazing and much better than the negative alternative, it begs the question: Is it possible to reinvent myself while staying true to who I am?
Fortunately, the answer is absolutely. It seems as though adolescents have been reinventing themselves since the beginning of time. Many television programs even center around the reinvention of the self—which is great, in a way, because it lets youth know that it’s completely normal to experiment with how you dress, how you act, and how you do or don’t do your makeup every morning. As long as reinvention is done in a healthy way, it can be an amazing way to explore who you are and who you want to be.
So, how do you reinvent yourself in a healthy way? In my opinion, there’s a little bit of criteria. A wholesome reinvention of the self should be done to serve you and only you. That time that you changed your clothes and hair to fit in with the “popular kids” in seventh grade is not an example of a healthy reinvention. But changing yourself to reflect an inner shift in your personal conscious is not only healthy, but can also be incredibly life-changing and liberating.
There are many books and websites that thrust self-reinvention in front of you as if it’s a simple diet. Some claim that there are “15 Easy Steps to Reinventing Yourself”, while others promise “An Entire Self Reinvention by Age 50!” I don’t believe that self-growth and change are things that can be plotted out into a guide and fit into a mold. It’s great to set goals for yourself while you grow, but being hard on yourself if your goals aren’t achieved is the opposite of healthy. It’s hard to compare your process to that of other people. You can’t measure your own reinvention against someone else's; if that’s the case, the idea of changing yourself for yourself—while still being yourself—gets lost. Of course, a healthy reinvention can be inspired by the steps of others, but it should ultimately start from within you, from wanting to make a positive change.
So how can you try on different identities in a healthy way? Here are some ideas:
Appreciate yourself. No matter what stage of life you’re in, you should appreciate who you are.