Disclaimer: this is a personal essay by the deputy editor of Shifter Mag and the COO of Shifter Media LLC, Samantha Olson.
They’ve graced the covers of Us Weekly, Star, People — even Vogue. They typically come off as these fervently beautiful, fearless people who have it all with nothing to lose.
I’ve always had a fascination with these types — Cher, Princess Di, Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna, to name a few — that went beyond the concept of the celebrity phenomenon. I wondered who they were beneath the surface. What made them who they are? What made them who they’re known as?
As a kid, I loved anything and everything to do with show business. I was larger than life and dreamt of being the next Hannah Montana. Hell, I’d choreograph numbers for my childhood birthday parties and force my sister and friends to perform them with me.
But, like most people in their adolescence, I grew older and became more self-conscious, losing sight of the little girl I once was. I became shier and was generally more nervous around people. I felt that I had to play by the rules and steered clear of any conflict. In short, I wanted to please everyone.
Aside from my unhealthy obsession with pop culture growing up, I also found myself falling in love with words and their impact. With newfound introversion, I immersed myself in the realm of creative writing. I wrote anything from haikus to flash fiction to essays and memoirs and yes, even fan-fiction.
I just kept reading and writing like I had no time left, and ultimately started creating characters similar to the it-girls I idolized. I don’t mean that in the sense of writing the characters as celebrities, but more like the kind of people with take-no-shit, give-no-fucks attitudes. The go-getters. The effortlessly gorgeous. The witty without trying. The powerhouses. The shapeshifters. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I fleshed out these characters in hopes of becoming them myself.
So I did.
My people-pleasing mentality followed me until I was 16 or 17; at that point, I stopped trying to be what other people wanted me to be and started doing things for me and for my future. I diligently worked and went after what I wanted. When I moved to Orlando in 2017, I became the it-girl of my own life, front and center on the cover. And it feels damn good to finally meet her.