Standing Out in a World of Conformity

Kelly - Marquette, Michigan
Entered on November 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

The town I grew up in was small. My graduating class was twenty-six. Town itself consisted of single minded citizens, whose family had been there for generations, living in the houses of their great grandparents. Our house was built ten years ago.

In this atmosphere it was expected that I would be defined by where I came from and that it would shape where I was going. I would become what my parents were and live a life similar to theirs, marry my high school sweet heart, buy a house near my parents, and spend the rest of my life at my roots.

My mother was divorced two times and as a result she moved her children twice. She did not marry her high school sweet heart nor did she live near her parents. Needless to say my siblings and I were always the town gossip. There wasn’t a day that went by that didn’t have an offensive slur or comment whispered as one of us walked by.

I can recall many events growing up that we were treated different because our family was out of the norm, a specific example being my junior basketball season. First game of the year, I was excited. I had been working hard and knew I was going so start. Five minutes before the game coach pulled me aside told me Holly was going to start. He was afraid of destroying her self esteem. From the stands Holly’s school board parents watched as their daughter line up with the starting five, while another father and step mother of less societal stature watched confused as their daughter sat on the bench.

If I sound bitter it’s because I am. That day made me more angry towards the world than ever before. However, over time that furry was replaced with comprehension, and understanding that I never needed their acceptance. Their negative attitudes and doubts only made me stronger. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Sitting on the bench in society’s game of conformity, I’ve learned that what I do and what I accomplish shapes who I am, not my past or the expectations of others. I have already begun to stray from the path of expectation; I do not live at home with my parents, I am not married to my high school sweet heart, and my roots are shallow in fresh ground.

I cannot go back and make a new beginning, but on my own I can make a new ending.