I remember the joy my kindergarten class felt during the winter season. The rooms were inspirited by soft, multicolored lights; swags of evergreen and shiny tinsel were strung above the doorways. That year, our school was to perform a play in which the icons of the holidays gathered to celebrate the winter season. As my classmates and I energetically approached the stage for our first rehearsal, we were each handed an elastic band on which was attached a large, white ball of fuzz. Our class of twenty-five enthusiastic five year olds was then informed that we would all be playing the part of dancing Easter Bunnies. It was bad enough that we would be dressed from head to toe in full rabbit regalia, but the humiliation of having to turn around and “shake our bunny tails” at the culmination of the act was too much for me to bear. I envisioned myself performing for the parents; my self-respect evaporating within an instant. At this point, I took off the ridiculous tail, placed it aside, and informed my teacher I would not be in the play. Although I was not a child who acted solely to oppose the majority, I was already quite certain that I wouldn’t let my actions and opinions be swayed by what everyone else was doing. I would not participate, even if it resulted in disunity with my peers.
Weeks of rehearsal passed. Every day, I was asked to join my friends on stage. Every day I refused. My teachers, friends, and family regularly attempted to coax me into mimicking the decisions of my peers. “Everyone else is doing it, why won’t you? You don’t want to be left out do you?” they asked. They persisted until the very night of the production when I watched as my classmates approached the stage. One by one they timidly stepped out into the spotlight, their fluffy white costumes and pink satin lined ears ready to perform. I was offered one last chance to perform with my classmates. I flatly declined, and even during the applause of the parents after the production, I was content with my decision to stand alone.
While I did refuse to comply with the others, I was by no means a social outcast. For the most part, I enjoyed following the majority. I always opted for basketball if a game was going and there weren’t enough soccer players. I preferred to spend lunch with others, rather than alone. In the case of the play, however, my opposition to the dance was too strong for me to conform.
Today, I still believe in the necessity in questioning decisions, ideas, and opinions of the majority. Individuals have the fundamental responsibility for thinking for themselves rather than imitating the thoughts and actions of others. They have the responsibility of having a firm set of morals, opinions, and beliefs, with which to make decisions free of the influence of their acquaintances. While my decision to abstain from bunny tail shaking was not difficult, and the consequence of standing alone was not severe, I believe in the ability to be an individual, to make my voice heard, and to never mindlessly follow others simply to obtain a sense of camaraderie and unity.
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