“Ha ha! I showed your fifth grade picture to the guys, and they all started cracking up!” It still makes me feel sick talking about it. I had a short bowl cut up to my ears, braces, and glasses that were said to be “Designer Barbie,” but were really Harry Potter looking. True, I looked like a nerd, I got made fun of, and I really let it get to me. I changed myself. I got contacts and let my hair grow out. I let the other kids change me. I’m not saying that if it wasn’t for the other kid’s comments I would still be prancing around with short hair, but I am saying that at the time, it wasn’t my decision. Looking back on what happened two years ago, I now believe that I should have been more concerned with my character than with my appearance. I believe that being yourself and not giving into peer pressure makes you feel so much happier.
An example of happiness that comes from being yourself is the lesson my sister taught me. I walked up to her and asked her, “Liz, how come you know everyone at your school, but you never have any parties?” She replied, “I don’t feel the need to be popular just to have fun. I can enjoy doing things I love, like playing basketball. I don’t need the popular girl at school to tell me what I like and what I don’t like.” She never changed who she was just to fit in, and that was a huge inspiration to me. It opened my eyes to what is more important in life. Being myself.
Another reason I am now more concerned with my character than with what people think of me is because in the past I’ve missed out on certain opportunities. There have been solos that I really wanted to try out for, but I was scared that the other kids would think I was bad. I would muster up the courage to get in the line, but then I would hear the girls in front of me talking. They said things like, “Oh, I could do so much better than her,” or, “Wow…does she hear herself when she sings?” I quickly sat down, thinking to myself, what will they say about me? Recently, I sang a solo to try out for the Drama Club. I thought; let them think what they want! I felt so proud for trying out after it was over.
I will forever be true to myself, because in five, ten, or fifteen years, the bullies, friends, and teachers will be gone, but my character will stay the same. I want to be proud of who I am. I’ll laugh in silence, run when others are walking, and I won’t care about the looks or comments I may receive. Because when I look in the mirror, I’ll see me. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.