10/26/2012 11:30 am ET Updated Dec 26, 2012

On Being Your Best Self

On being. Being me, being you.

I couldn't understand when I was younger why I didn't really fit in with any group or clique of people that was popular. I felt this more and more the older I grew. The more my personality developed and the more I formed my own opinions about the world, the more I felt this way.


Photo with one of my beautiful fans Phyllis Agu at a cosmetics event in Connecticut.

By the time I reached high school, I felt like a total outcast. When everyone was wearing denim outfits and white Nike sneakers, I started making my own clothes and wearing psychedelic shirts like my hero, Jimi Hendrix. I would paste photo printouts of Jimi Hendrix on the outside of my locker and people would rip them down, but I would tape them back up.

I loved listening to everything that was not popular on the radio with most teenagers. I loved listening to Green Day, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and classic hip-hop like Masta Ace. All the other girls were wearing their hair straight and processed. I wore my curly Afro! Then I started dying it all kinds of colors!

I enjoyed going to the museum more than the mall. Perhaps because at the museum I felt fulfilled, whereas at the mall my empty pockets left me feeling depressed. I couldn't afford much of anything, especially the latest expensive trends -- so I decided to shop at the Salvation Army and revamp the clothes I liked most. I believe my economic status definitely helped encourage my creativity and bravery to stand out and be myself!

It was frightening and strange a lot of the time! But I was me, and that was amazing.

It is still a challenge to be myself, in that most people will not understand why I do what I do. That is unimportant. I have spent my life discovering what makes me most happy -- without tampering with the happiness of others. So I will continue doing what makes me happy and I will do it joyously, even when facing ridicule and judgment. I will have courage to continue forward, being myself.

What makes you -- you? Share your story about the struggle to be yourself here at my writer's blog at Naima Mora Online, the Fan Corner. I will share your story with the world!

Also, if you'd like to buy my latest ebook, Model Behavior, you can get it here on iTunes.

For more by Naima Mora, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.

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