When the term “basic” snuck its way into my repertoire, I embraced it fully. I took it to mean “ordinary,” “forgettable,” or “average(-looking).” I used it as an insult, and I used it regularly. Lately, though, I feel like the Starbucks-drinking, sock bun-wearing, Taylor Swift-singing masses have begun identifying with a word that literally exists to make fun of them. It’s like the second coming of that tendency we all had in eighth grade to echo, “oh my God, I’m such a slut” in front of our lockers, because we’d made out with three guys in the past five months and no guys in the previous 13 years. And you know it’s not in that self-empowered, I’m-going-to-own-my-insult way. These girls, you girls, literally think it’s cool to be mediocre, to be unspecial…to be basic.
Not me. NOT THIS BITCH.
*Flips hair. Sips skinny latte. Sends message on white iPhone with bedazzled case.*
My problem with “basic” is not identifying with “basic” things. I love fall as much as the next white girl, my sorority was literally my whole entire life when I was in college, and my sunglasses cover my entire face, because every girl is pretty when you can’t see her. I live my life in leggings. I’ve eaten Nutella with a spoon. I own a North Face fleece. Sometimes, I abbreviate my words. I keep up with the Kardashians as best as I can, and I pretty much decide how I feel about celebrities based on their wardrobes. Bravo, E!, or TLC is always playing at my house. I’d identify as a Rachel, a Shoshanna, and a Carrie–and I know that’s obnoxious, because they’re the best ones, but, like, I really think that’s who I am. I pray to Beyoncé and I swear by my contouring routine, even though I just learned how to contour three months ago. I enjoy the magical nostalgia that comes along with everything Disney, and my craft box is filled to the brim. Also, I have a craft box.
But I REFUSE to call myself basic. Because I’m not basic. I’m fucking awesome.
I worked hard for four years of college, maintained a 3.5 GPA, and earned a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science–which you know has to be at least a little hard, since you’ve never heard of it. I managed to make a room full of 150 of my peers respect me in a weekly sorority meeting we call “chapter” not because they had to, but because I had a good head on my shoulders, I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind, and people trusted me. I moved across the country, 2,000 miles away from anyone I knew, for my dream job, in my dream city, at my dream company–and I only cried once. (The grocery store was set up differently, and somehow, that was my trigger.) I’m funny. I’m smart. I’m pretty. I’m articulate. And my voice is heard. I’ve made a name for myself. And one time, when I was 17, in possibly my proudest moment to date, I got a room full of 70 screaming children to sit down, shut up, and behave, all by myself–which was totally illegal, because a minor should never be alone with that many kids. I’ve been a sister, a daughter, a friend, a student, a teacher, and a mentor.
You are sorority women. You are supposed to be among the elite. You were hand-selected by the brilliant, beautiful, and good women before you to carry on traditions that are more than 100 years old. You make a difference every day, and you will continue to do so throughout the rest of your lives. You’ll go on to be educators, doctors, philanthropists, and scientists. You’ll work in the music industry, which is an industry that is so important to so many people that they feel they might die without it. You’ll invent things and change the way we interact with the world. You’ll save the environment–an environment that was on a downward trajectory until your generation came along. You’ll teach your daughters to respect themselves. You’ll teach them that they are worth more than society thought you were. That they’re worth more than their bodies, more than their looks. And you’ll teach them that, because your passion about it helped to change society’s views on it. You’ll become lawyers, engineers, mothers, wives, and CEOs. You’ll become famous writers and speakers. You will inspire people.
So sure, you drank a pumpkin spice latte or 15 this season, and maybe every girl who looks like you did, too. But liking things that other people like or following trends doesn’t make you ordinary–it makes you a human who exists in this society. What you like is not who you are, because you are someone incredible, and if you really want to, you will go places. You will make a difference. And there’s nothing basic about that..