“You’re so relatable.”
As an actor, I was always cast as the “relatable one”. The girl next door. The one who reminded people of one of their friends. For years, I took that to heart. I wanted to be edgy, sexy, unique. I didn’t want to always be seen as the average, ordinary girl. Fuck that noise. I wanted to be extraordinary!
I saw a video last week that disturbed me to my core. It was posted by a grown woman who should know better. This person is considered to be a leader in her industry and someone who should be leading by example. Out of touch doesn’t begin to describe what unfolded in this video and the accompanying caption. As I watched and read, I felt sick to my stomach. I wasn’t disappointed or shocked, I was angry. “How dare she?” thoughts brewed as my blood started to boil.
I touched on this video in my latest newsletter and shared something I want every woman to hear. If you’re not already signed up to receive it, please do. I’ll resend it out to all new subscribers this week, because it’s important!
In this newsletter, I also said it wasn’t my intention to point anyone in the direction of seeking this video out. Your time is far too precious to be spent consuming that appalling crap. It also wasn’t my intention to talk shit about the woman who made it. Your time is far too precious to be consuming that kind of appalling crap, too. However, one point this person made in this video hit home for me and I wanted to share my thoughts in case they resonate with you.
This controversy was all sparked when someone deemed this person un-relatable. Her response was “what makes you think I want to be relatable?” And the disturbing tangent continued to ensue from there.
I spent a lot of my younger years fighting the “relatable” label. For whatever reason, I’d been conditioned to believe that relatable meant I was less than. Mediocre, but not special. Fine, but not great. As though being superior and un-relatable to others was something to aspire to be. As a teen, like so many, I idolized fame, wealth and power. Celebrities were the “gods” I prayed to in hopes that one day I, too, may be fortunate enough to be as un-relatable as they were.
Now, a decade later, I’ve shaken that stigma from my mind. One of the greatest compliments I read from people who spend their valuable time consuming my content is that they find me “relatable”. How they relate to me as a person and the content I share is ultimately why they enjoy it. To be told, I’m relatable means I’m resonating with someone and the content I share is making a positive impact on their day. That is the goal of what I do. Living my life with this purpose professionally and personally is something I prioritize and value greatly.
Here’s the thing I used to get confused about that made me flinch at being branded with that word. I misunderstood relatability for an inability to be extraordinary. Contrary to my naive younger self’s belief, relatable people can do extraordinary things and make a significant impact on the world. Many of the heroes we admire most in the world have most certainly been considered “relatable” prior to the extraordinary work they did to leave the legacy they built for themselves and others. I’d go as far as to say the heroes, who at some point lived “relatable” lives, are the greatest of their kind. Things like nepotism and marrying rich isn’t conducive to true greatness, in my opinion. The best decisions and actions are made when driven by purpose, not fuelled by ego.
Have you ever met someone you’ve looked up to or admired in real life and been met with a giant fucking ego that ruined your entire perception of how wonderful you always thought they were? I have. Many times. IT SUCKS. I’ve also been fortunate to meet a handful of people I’ve looked up to and admired who were the absolute loveliest, most gracious people. They were just as inspiring and admirable in real life as I’d always painted them to be in my head and I felt so lucky to be able to continue to hold them in that light after meeting them in real life.
Now, I’m not just talking about celebrities here. I’m also talking about the girl you meet at yoga or the mom of the kid in your toddler’s preschool class. If someone comes across as “un-relatable”, it may be fun to look at their pictures on social media, but would you really want to be their friend? Would they be someone you aspired to be like in real life?
They say, you are who you surround yourself with. It’s important to me that the people I surround myself with speak to my values. Those values include treating people kindly and being true to who you are, unafraid to show vulnerability and passionate about personal growth and caring for others. Those things may seem like pretty ordinary human qualities, but to me they are extraordinary and they typically don’t go hand in hand with a big fucking ego. The people I surround myself with inspire and motivate me. They are ego-free people who have incredible qualities and do incredible things. And you best believe, they are also relatable AF.
So, if someone out in the world considers you “relatable”, please do not misunderstand the term like I did for so many years. Let your face light up and say thank you very fucking much!
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.