To whoever is reading this: you’re Heather. To explain, yes, I’m referencing the song that recently went viral on TikTok that goes “I wish I were Heather”, and plays behind POVs of people seeming to admire someone else from afar. The song is written and performed by indie pop artist Conan Gray. He so accurately describes the pain of watching a crush or lover become infatuated with someone else right in front of you, not even attempting to be secretive for the sake of sympathy. This is a universal feeling for many teenagers, and the TikTok trend has focused on the status established by societal beauty standards. The Internet has taken the term “Heather” to represent a girl who is liked by everyone at school, and she usually fits the “ideals” spread all over social media. I think it’s important to point out that Conan never identifies who Heather is, or what she looks like, except he laments that he’s “not even half as pretty” as her. It is easy to think of this song as a manifestation of insecurity about your own looks, but I think it is deeper than this. Gray says it himself in a Genius Lyrics video, explaining how Heather is “so perfect” and “everything that [he’s] not”—but he mentions qualities of personality rather than only looks.
“Heather” is a concept—representing someone who you wish you were for the sake of feeling reciprocated love from someone. I’m not at all disagreeing with Conan’s idea—and I won’t hide the amount of times I have found myself crying to this song (a lot) because it’s comforting to know that such an experience is so common. I’m also not going to pretend that I’m an overly optimistic person, especially when I’m in my feelings, per say, but what if this song could inspire self-love by bringing light to universal self-esteem issues? Everyone admires Heather, but maybe you feel like no one admires or appreciates you in a romantic sense. This may sound cliché, but truly, self-love comes first. It’s only natural to become overly self-critical if you’re obsessively comparing yourself to someone else. I think that we can turn Conan’s idea into one that inspires self-growth. Realize that anyone can be a “Heather”, regardless of how they look. You’re more than just beautiful, and it’s not selfish to think so. I think that, if you are unhappy with where you are in life, it is more important to admire your future self rather than someone you envy. Put energy into advancing yourself, in whatever way you see fit. Work hard to get good grades, make money, start creating healthy daily habits, give yourself more time for self-care, and most importantly, work on becoming happy with yourself on the inside and outside. Increasing your self-confidence takes time, but this makes your insecurities diminish and seem less restraining than before. Being able to look back and see that you came to embody who you always wanted to be (instead of copying a specific person) can be a very rewarding process.
Does this mean that all of your sadness over some unrequited love will immediately go away? Not necessarily, but part of the battle is seeing yourself as valuable whether others realize this or not. You don’t have to wait for your heart to be filled by someone else’s love in order to recognize your own worth. I promise that hyping yourself up makes a world of a difference on a daily basis, even in the smallest ways. Whether you planned a super cute outfit, or got ahead on homework, or just allowed yourself to relax, you should take time to celebrate yourself. You deserve the attention and admiration that you give to other people. Putting your energy towards your own growth will make you the best that you can be, for your own sake and nobody else’s. If you are unhappy with yourself, question whether it is because you want to gain approval from others, or if you want to improve just for you—because we often wait for others to show us our flaws through comparison. It’s hard to go easy on yourself when you think that everyone is better than you, but the most genuine form of self-acceptance will come when you do whatever makes you happy. Seeking others’ admiration might make you happy in the moment, but this won’t last forever, because eventually you are going to move on from high school or college or wherever you are currently. The person that’s left is you. If you’re not someone’s first choice, that is never a reflection on you or your worth. So, maybe we can all wish to be our best selves for a change, instead of trying to be a “Heather”.