“Just be yourself and people will like you for who you are.” This popular quote, which some might say is even an aphorism, is too commonly heard in everyday life to be taken serious. We all know we should be ourselves, but outside influences often make this extremely difficult. “I just want to fit in,” says the so called nerd to his friends or “Why don’t they like me?” says the shy, quiet girl who sits in the back of the classroom. It is human nature. People want to be accepted. But we frequently end up not being accepted by those who we want to accept us. People are striving too hard to be noticed. If someone does not like you for the way you are, why then do we want to be their friend? No two people in the world are alike; we all possess different personalities; this is what makes us unique. We should be proud of our differences. I believe we should always be ourselves, to stand out, to be an individual, despite what other people think.
Being our self is not easy though, especially in such a critical society. One place criticism is always occurring is in school: high school. Immediately as you enter the doors of your school your brain cannot help but begin labeling everyone in sight: nerd, jock, cheerleader, gothic, etc. There are many other labels, but these are the general “cliques”. Although you hear others say, “I don’t judge a book by its cover,” they are probably one of the most judgmental persons. But what is wrong with judging people? Nothing, except humans tend to judge people by their worst qualities.
Over the course of my high school life, I have come to learn a lot about people and their personalities by observing my surroundings. For example, in my school there is a student who most people avoid due to how he dresses. Black all over including clothes, hair, shoes, even his fingernails are black. He is one of those individuals who walks around tied to his I-Pod while listening to hard metal. He sits alone and rarely speaks. Everyone gives him a disgusted look. Label status: Gothic. Why is he given this label? Society has evolved to the point where appearance is paramount. But one thing people do not know about this “gothic person” is he volunteers at his church every weekend babysitting children. This takes heart and dedication to do it week after week. But would people think differently of him if they knew the truth? Who knows, but the important thing is this person knows who he is. He does not let images or status affect him. He is himself.
Being our self may seem like a tough task because we all change to fit in. Despite the blond haired cheerleaders, the sports crazy jocks, the school smart nerds, or the black dressed goths, everyone should be proud of their unique individualities. I know I am.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.