Learning Individuality

Jared - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on February 29, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe the most important aspect of life is to cherish individuality. It is what allows anyone to be who they want to be, to express themselves, and to keep away from the pressures that society often imposes on us. Nevertheless, for any person to be truly unique, open-mindedness is equally important to have. One must be accepting of differences and change. Individualism cannot survive without tolerance. Even though individualism and open-mindedness are the things that drive me to be who I am today, the idea is relatively new compared to the other experiences in my life, however, I do believe it is the most significant thing that I have experienced.

The most influential period of my life was my transition from middle school to high school and it was during this time that I came to realize that individualism and tolerance are central to living life. After coming from a small, private school, I was thrown into a completely new world where everything did not just appear to be different, but was different. I was used to going to school with the same people year after year, some of whom I had known since kindergarten. Ten whole years of a routine, that seemed repetitive and dull. When I applied to be part of the IB program at East, I was apprehensive, but I inherently knew that my life needed change – to break away from a life that seemed far too ordinary for me.

My first year at East was the best learning experience not as a student, but as a person. To be truthful, what I was used to was uniformity. Being, essentially, the minority in a group of 80 students, who all dressed and acted the same, left me separated from the majority with a reasonable desire to fit in. During that time, I was an individual, but I was unable to accept that fact. After coming to East and immersing myself into a world that I was extremely uncomfortable with, I was able to change to become more open to the wide range of personalities and characteristics that people have that you would never find at a private school. Understanding differing views of other people, not only helped me to be more open-minded, but also assisted me in becoming much more aware of the world that I live in.

The concepts of uniqueness and acceptance of others must go together otherwise neither can exist properly. These two ideas came together around the same time in my life during this transition from middle school to high school. I can definitively say that this has been the most important time during my life, and I consider it one of my best experiences so far. This evolution was the turning point in my life that has allowed me to recognize the person that I am, or at least the person that I aspire to be if I have not already reached it.