To Each Their Own

Claire - Buda, Texas
Entered on August 29, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that one should be their own person, refusing to let someone else dictate to them how they should be.

All throughout school, I was not considered one of the “popular” kids. In fact, I’m still not in the “in-crowd” to this day. I live out my school career on the outskirts of the social circle with a handful of close friends with whom I love spending time with. I’m quite happy with my place on the social ladder: I have friends who like me for me, and who I am guaranteed to have fun with, without doing anything that goes against who I am. That’s the place that I want to be in, where I enjoy being in. However, I didn’t always feel that way.

When I was younger, I had a secret desire to hang out with the cool kids. Those cool kids always seemed so glamorous with their nice clothes, makeup and hairstyles. They always seemed so interesting, hanging out in a group, laughing and talking. I wanted so badly to be able to join them. But who would ever accept a nerdy, goofy, socially-awkward girl who had glasses and braces, and who wore mostly T-shirts and blue jeans, her hair up in a ponytail, and no makeup? Nobody. My own peculiar shape did not seem to fit in with the puzzle of the cool, popular kids. My strangely-shaped piece did not even seem to belong to that puzzle at all, as I soon realized. I decided to give up on that aspiration, knowing I would have to change too much of myself to fit in. I’ve never been so ecstatic about giving up before in my life.

Just recently I remember going shopping and looking at new shirts. I heard someone say, “No, I can’t wear that shirt. It’s not a brand name shirt. I want to go look at American Eagle clothes. The kids will like me better if I wear American Eagle.” I remember thinking to myself; I would never want to be defined by the brand of shirt that I wear. I want to be seen as myself; someone who is kind, intelligent, has a weird sense of humor and a passion for helping others – not the kid who wears brand name shirts. So what if I’m not popular? If people are going to like me for the most superficial of reasons, why do I want to be around them in the first place? I am popular to the people who matter the most to me, and, for me, that is enough. I find it unacceptable to have to change who I am in order to become liked by the people who are supposedly cooler than everyone else.

Today, I am a self-proclaimed nerd, minus the glasses and braces of my youth, who is still the same weird, socially-awkward person I have always been, and, during lunchtime, I stride proudly past the “popular” table, straight to my usual seat surrounded by my friends, some more nerdy than others, and have a spectacular time just being me.