“Wow, you’re so trendy. I love it.”

If someone said that to me, I’d be crushed. I don’t want to be trendy. I wouldn’t get defensive if they labeled me “cool” (or whatever word cool people use for cool these days). But I definitely don’t want to be trendy. Why is trendy so painful to me?

People like to follow the crowd.

Following the crowd is human nature. A variety of social psychology phenomena describe the influences and pressures that compel us to follow the crowd. Social proof is doing things that others are doing, in order to conform. Normative social influence behavior imitates others to gain approval. Peer pressure is when a person is encouraged to change their values or behavior in order to conform to a group. Under groupthink, people make decisions that involve less creativity and personal responsibility in order conform to the group. The bandwagon effect occurs when something grows exponentially in popularity as more people do it. You get the idea.

But that’s not me.

Then there are oddballs, like me, who strongly resist following the crowd. If everybody else is doing something, I am not interested in the least. Maybe I’m like this because I am a Gen Xer with an independent streak. Maybe it is because I’m an artist. Maybe it’s because I’m contrarian. Maybe it’s because I get bored easily. Maybe it’s all of these things. Whatever the reasons, following everybody else goes against who I am.

Here’s how I feel about following the crowd.

Trendy things aren’t necessarily great. They’re just popular. I’d rather focus on something that is quality, and make the value judgment for myself. My core beliefs around quality and sustainability were likely instilled by my depression-era grandparents. Everything used to be built to last — unlike today’s throwaway culture. While a trendy thing may not be subpar, my suspicion sets in because I don’t want to be trapped by the herd mentality that says I must have it.

Being trendy is a lot of work. Trendy takes time, effort, and money. And I have better ways to focus my dollars and my time. Being trendy implies that I’m taking the time to keep up with stuff like that. And that is definitely not the impression I want to make.

Trendy is not unique. I am unique, and I want to present myself that way. The very definition of unique is “being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.” I am not like everyone else. I’m creative and I’m an original. I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing nor look like everyone else is looking.

People wanting to be trendy are seeking to fit in. I don’t want or need external validation that I’m doing the right thing. I am an introvert but I’m not a wallflower. Being trendy implies that I’m worried about fitting in. But I’m not. I don’t need to be part of the cool kids’ clique. I already know who I am.

My life’s mission is to create my own path and help others do the same. Being trendy is simply not part of that.

We are all unique beings. We may have many of the same milestones and markers along our journey: education, jobs, love, loss, family, and home. We may have some of the same essence: looks, humor, or interests. Yet we each have our individual experiences and unique dreams. I cannot achieve my true success following someone else’s path. And neither can you.

I want the world to see me as I am. A unique and interesting person that is following her own path — independent of trendiness. And I wish the same for you.

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