Alex Harrison's Definition of Bona Fide

Bona fide. That's such a great term. It's similar to the handle I chose when I created my Instagram account five years ago. I searched for synonyms for nonconformity and came across the word 'amomalous.' It was perfect. I tweaked the suffix, making it more feminine and now we are here.

I wanted something that could describe my personality and life mission in one word. I've always prided myself in being different. I was the only member of my faith that attended my high school of 2,000 students. Standing at 5 feet and 11 inches, I accepted that I was different, and I really embraced the fact that different was great. I understand that my peers may have viewed actions as peculiar, standing up for bullying and being honest in an environment where that was almost unheard of. I could never be more proud of being peculiar, for we read the Holy Bible that the Lord associates that behavior with being treasured. All I wanted was for each person I met to feel loved and to influence them for good, no matter their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one race- the human race, and my God is the author of diversity.

When I graduated high school, I moved across the country to attend a university where I was going to live with five girls I'd never met. It was a challenging transition with amazing dynamics. I felt really learned how to work with a variety of personalities and felt inspired that love and respect are what will really keep our society going in a positive direction, despite difference in opinion or agenda. With this inspiration, I knew that I was expected to act on it. I am a passionate person full of ideas to make the world a better place, so I would confidently use the noun 'advocate' to describe my movement, and to be honest, there was a need for a revolution. A revolution to stand up for what was right.

It didn't take long though for me to realize that those that want to change the world will receive the most negative feedback, and that it will be the ugliest. Every minute I was trying to pull someone out of water, I felt like I was being dunked back and held under until I couldn't breathe. In my situation, anxiety happens when I can't breathe, and then I become scared. Scared of the threats, scared of the loss of relationships, scared because I can't please everyone. These worries led to depression and events came to pass that I am still scarred by, but I've decided not to be bitter.

I'm not bitter because I signed up for this. I chose to be bold to empower those around me and to make their lives a little better every day. I have been given so much- a loving family, a knowledge of my purpose here on Earth, and a best friend that came from that 6-girl apartment. I've used these trials as inspiration to others, and I try to find the humor in the struggles in life.

After that iconic freshman year of stories you only hear in tall tales, I took a year and a half off to share this love that I'd been able to receive in large amounts in the most appropriate times with so many people and helped them find purpose in life. Shortly after this expedition, I moved to a brand new and large city. I had been tech free those entire 18 months other than weekly emails to close friends and family. Instagram had grown significantly during this time, and being the social media guru that I am, I wanted to immerse myself in everything it had to offer.

I became familiar with lifestyle blogging and learned that pineapples and marble laptop covers were the source of some blogger's incomes if the lighting was just right. I tried to keep up with the Joneses in a sense, buying as many products as I could and neutralized my wardrobe to noir and nude. There was a local Instagram mom who I ran into at a dessert shop one evening. I recognized the perfect clothes and hair and hipster children. One thing was missing though. No one was smiling, and her and her husband we just typing away on their phone. I was confused. I thought this mom had the perfect life, as she radiated this via her flashing pearly whites on the web. Several weeks passed and I saw her again at the grocery store. Her children were fighting in the cart and she understandably didn't look too pleased. It was then that I realized that her life wasn't perfect, and that was okay!

I stepped back after that and took a look at my own photo feed. I wasn't pleased with the person I was trying to be. Keeping up with the trends to the extent that I was was exhausting! I remembered that I wasn't basic. I was better than basic. I was an original with talents and ideas and opinions that helped change lives and get things done! Social media is great, but I was given a mouth to speak, I was given feelings to share, and I was given ears to listen.

Remember when I said I was 5 feet and 11 inches? I used to get letters in the mail when I was still in middle school asking me to model for a variety of agencies. While I believe that many men and women are cut out for that career, I knew that I wasn't a Barbie Doll for a brilliant mind to dress me up in their visions. I have visions of my own and I'm ready to share them.