Last week, I did something I had never done before.

In the Youtube video I uploaded, I kept every single mistake, outtake and blooper I had made. It was simply me on camera in my most purest form.

I felt a lot of hesitation at first. What if people didn’t like me for who I was? What if people thought poorly of the video because of the bad editing?

But then I realized, why does it matter what people think? I am who I am. I don’t have to change myself for the sake of someone else. If I did, I wouldn’t be who I am today and I’d be lying to myself and to you.

So I posted the video, and the more I watched it, the more satisfied I was in making the decision to post it. It felt more real, more genuine. It captured a side of me that I normally don’t show people; it was a better reflection of who I am. I’ve always been too serious on camera before, so this time after letting go of my insecurities and the fear of being judged, I felt a sense of relief, a huge weight off my chest.

The video wasn’t professional at all, but I was proud, very proud of how it had turned out. I giggled, I laughed and even admitted to not knowing what I was talking about on camera and it felt good to share this, to be truthful.

Looking back, I wish I had opened up sooner. I guess a part of me had still felt insecure after what happened in China and I was afraid to let my real self come out because it would’ve felt like I was trivializing the very life I’d been trying to rebuild.

I realize that for most of us, we script the things we say and edit the things we do. The Youtube videos we post, the Instagram photos we upload — these are all exaggerated versions of ourselves and we do it simply because we’re afraid that people won’t accept us and love us for who we are. But by doing so, we’re trading our short-term insecurities for long-term happiness.

We do the things that others want us to do and say the things they want us to say, but what do we really get out of it, in return? What do we get for spending all our lives hiding who we are, our imperfections, our mistakes, our past? Is it really worth it? It’s exhausting to always put up a front.

What we have to realize is that none of us is perfect; we all have moments we’re not proud of, mistakes we regret and times when we’ve said the wrong thing. It happens even to the very best of us. If we can realize that, we’ll know how unfounded our fears are. If we can relate to each other’s mistakes and realize that it’s all a process, a process that all of us have gone through, we’ll no longer find it necessary to hide who we really are.

It’s not easy ignoring what other people think, but if we’re able to drop our ego and cast away our fears, we have a chance at being more genuine and true to ourselves. And the truer we are to ourselves, the happier we’ll be because we’ll be able to live the way we want, on our own judgement.

Right now, I’m still learning to be more genuine on camera, both in my videos and photographs. I don’t expect it to be easy. I don’t expect it to be fast. But all I know is that if I don’t try, I’ll forever be living a life that belongs to other people. And if that’s the kind of life I’m rebuilding after my heartbreak in China, I won’t ever be truly happy. It would’ve meant I had traded one life, a life full of emptiness for another one that’s full of pretense.

The only way forward is my way, mistakes, bloopers and all.