This I Believe

Katie - Coralville, Iowa
Entered on September 18, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Today, many teenagers feel like they have to have nice, expensive things in order to fit in, in high school. People are always worried about what brand of clothes they wear, what kind of car they drive, what their hair looks like, and in general, how people look at them. What I honestly don’t understand is does it matter? Is it more important to have people like you for what you have, or who you really are? Lots of people follow trends because they think that it will make them more “popular.” Well, being popular isn’t always the best way to go. You may have a lot of friends, but are they truly your friends, or only your friends because of what you have? Looking into the future, is it really going to matter if you were the best dressed, or if you had the nicest car back in high school?

In my past two years in high school, I have noticed a few differences between the “popular” kids and the “non-popular” kids. Some of the people I know that may not be the most popular are some of the nicest people I have ever met. They don’t try to make friends because of what they have. Their friends are their friends because of their personalities. They would rather have friends that like them for who they truly are. I really admire those people for their confidence.

I can’t say that I don’t care about what I look like, because I do. I don’t want people getting the wrong impression of my personality based on my appearance, but there’s a certain extent to which we should care. I admit, I do shop at nice stores, like American Eagle for example, and yes, I do have a car. I understand that that contradicts the point of this essay, but I don’t shop there because I think it will make me more popular; I shop there because I like it. I also consider myself very lucky for having a car this year, and it’s not like it was just handed to me. I do have to pay for some of it and I have to pay for my own gas and essentials that go along with having a car. I consider myself very lucky to have a car this year.

UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, once said, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” This is a great word of advice to teenagers, and people in general. Don’t worry so much about what people think of you on the outside, and start focusing more on how they feel about your character, because in the end, that’s all that really matters.