With the fall season comes a wave of crisp orange leaves, chatter about knit sweaters, pumpkin spice permeating the air, and one phrase that most of us are familiar with by now: being "basic". And I'm going to ask you right now. Please-- stop calling yourself "basic".
Note: Urban Dictionary lacked one unified definition, so to catch those up who are unfamiliar, "basic" is a common term used to describe someone who is only interested in what's trending or mainstream, the underlying implication being that someone is uninteresting because of these things.
Maybe you're reading this wondering what's the big deal with using the term "basic". Maybe in reading this you feel like you are in fact "basic" by all definitions. Before I dive in let's be clear on some things: I'm not here to make the case that if you like things that are considered "mainstream" it's a bad thing. We all are interested in the mainstream; it sets the context for us socially. And it's okay to like something with mass appeal, like a nice pair of yoga pants or the sweet-spiciness of a Grande PSL (extra hot, no whip... you know the drill). Nobody wants to steal these everyday joys from you. My words are also not here to pass judgment on you or your friends. If you call yourself "basic", it doesn't mean you lack depth as a person. We are all complex beings. "Basic" is a simple word.
Well, words have power.
The language choices we make have implications we might not even see. And when it comes to the term "basic" especially, which has been primarily a term used by and reserved for women, I feel like we have better choices available to us that can have exponentially more positive implications for ourselves.
"Basic" might be easy. It might make you feel like you belong. It might allow you to hide from other more honest words you feel about yourself-- the beautiful and the ugly. It might be the way you give yourself permission to have that glass of white wine or wear your yoga pants out in public. But I'd like to make to make the case that you don't need a word to hide behind, lean on, or gather around. Because at the end of the day, darling, you're so much more.
What if instead of calling one another "basic" we called each other driven, passionate, stunning, remarkable, creative, precious, empathetic, strong, intelligent, or inspiring? What if we refused to call your friends and fellow sisters basic because you know the truth: we each have our own story. There's nothing basic about that.
What if we called ourselves those things? What if we meant it? Would it scare us to have to live up to those attributes? Would it empower us to go after being the person we most strive to be?
What if instead of putting a one-dimensional word out into the world to describe women, we celebrated that we are complex beings who can both appreciate a Netflix binge and get nerdy about things we love? That sounds like a lot of permission to me. That sounds like relief.
What if instead of summing ourselves up with the word "basic" we dove into the reality that each of us has a unique, powerful contribution to make in this world? Nobody else will see the world like us. That comes with a risk of being misunderstood or disagreed with. But our unique perspective is also one of the most valuable things about us. Own it.
What if we decided that we don't need to try to be homogeneously "basic"-- because it's never going to happen. We're here. Uniquely us. And the world needs to know who we are. So this might be unpopular, but don't settle for basic. Ever.
My darling, you are so much more.