one of my greatest fears in life is becoming a two-dimensional or superficial/shallow person, or simply a person that lacks depth. but recently i’ve been thinking – what does being shallow really mean? how do you define depth? are these two things really all that black and white? i decided to do what i do best when i’m battling thoughts like this: blog about it. (side note: the word superficial is also usually associated with females *cough stereotypical “white girls” cough* and i find it a bit sexist, but i’m not going to go into that because then this post would be way too long.)
let’s talk about shallowness
1. appearing to be true or real only until examined more closely.
2. not having or showing any depth of character or understanding.
nobody wants to be called superficial. whenever people catch themselves doing shallow things, they usually try to hide it or deny it or act like they don’t care. but why is that even necessary? i mean yes, we just established that we don’t want to come across as superficial, but seriously. it kind of appalls me because i know of many admirable fashion bloggers or celebrities who are intellectual and “deep” people, but probably also care very much about their social media and style and fame and whatever is popular/mainstream, which are all things that are “shallow.” being superficial is generally thought of as BAD!!! but doing superficial things – like caring about your instagram feed – doesn’t always mean it’s bad. (wait, what????)
some things people generally think of when defining shallowness:
- a person who only cares about materialistic things
- like makeup or clothes
- or how many likes you get on instagram
- as well as follower/friend count
- living your life through social media
- selfies and good filters
- caring more about the aesthetic of something more than the thing itself
- buying a lot of stuff and hauling
- being rich and/or famous (i.e. the kardashians)
- caring about what others think of you, what others are doing, and basically what’s “popular”
- basically anything related to materialism, pop culture, and the mainstream
i’m going to openly admit to being guilty of doing or being one or more of the above things. but that doesn’t mean i’m shallow… does it? just because i care about aesthetics and like to haul/buy things and live on social media and do other “shallow things,” doesn’t mean i lack depth as a person, right? right! (right???) then how and/or why did these ideas come to associate themselves with this concept?
“It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.”
– John Green, PAPER TOWNS
i apologize for all these – rhetorical or not – questions, but i’m just trying to wrap my brain around this. i don’t understand why we, as normal human beings, feel the need to stop or defend ourselves for liking the things we like or doing the things we do. i don’t really think any of these things dubbed shallow really change or affect the depth of me as a person. that being said…
what does it mean to have depth?
1. complexity and profundity of thought.
2. extensive and detailed study or knowledge.
this is a term i find difficult to define and one that varies from person to person. we all define and see depth a bit differently. i mostly find it as something (or someone) that has a lot of meaning and a lot of layers, something that could mean one thing but could also mean another thing that’s on the other side of the spectrum. depth in yourself is something you create and decide and realize in your own time.
okay, so how do these two concept collide?
i mentioned earlier that my definition of depth is a concept that has meaning and/or multiple meanings. so, what if i found it meaningful – to me – to enjoy a superficial act or thing? (example: aesthetics or social media) *mic drop* i don’t find that thing or act superficial anymore because i made it meaningful. it has meaning to me, and i made it have depth to me. (however it still may seem like a superficial thing to others.)
i still don’t completely understand how or why these associations of shallowness and the items on my list (plus other i didn’t mention) came to be, but i no longer find these attributes to be completely negative, nor do i find shallowness to be as bad as i thought it was at the beginning of writing this post. for example, MEAN GIRLS has generally negative connotations on fashion and popularity and the like; but this doesn’t mean obsessively shopping for clothes or makeup or, in our case, books is a bad thing. if you find meaning in growing your social media following or taking photos that are “so tumblr” then do that. go do you, and ignore those who say or think otherwise.
“We rarely find a depth by looking inside of ourselves for it. Depth is found in what we can learn from the people and things around us. Everyone, everything, has a story, Gia. When you learn those stories, you learn experiences that fill you up, that expand your understanding. You add layers to your soul.”
– Kasie West, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND
i don’t think it’s really truly possible for someone to be 100% superficial. (if there is a person that is like that, i’d hardly think this person is even a human being anymore.) we all have depth in our own unique ways. books taught me to look at things from multiple POVs and perspectives. the person you may find “fake” probably isn’t all that you think he/she is. it’s also good to note that other people’s morals and thoughts and definitions may not match yours and THAT’S OKAY. for example, i know for a fact that donald trump and i think on very different wavelengths. he can go on doing his own thing as long as that thing doesn’t affect me. (in which case, him running for president and possibly changing the country of america is VERY BAD and that’s when i get all prickly.)