Tearing Off the Labels

Stephanie - Healdsburg, California
Entered on September 1, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: equality
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in not making labels. I believe that individualism is what makes the world go round, and that by judging someone at first sight, you miss out on making some of the greatest friendships you possibly could. When I look around me in the small town of Healdsburg, California, I see many superficial, judgmental people, and a closed minded attitude towards anything or anyone who happens to be a little off the beaten path. In Healdsburg High, most of us look like clones. We buy similar clothes, and most everyone is afraid to stand out, to be different, to be unique. I do not understand this. I admire people who look different. People who are not afraid to have fun, to be noticed, and most importantly, to be themselves.

Ever since I was a little girl my mom has raised me to not judge people by the clothes they wear or the color of their skin, but rather by the way they act. In tenth grade I had a class with a guy who I thought was really weird. He did crazy things, and I heard a lot of people talk about how strange he was, so I assumed it was true. In eleventh grade I actually got to know this guy, and I discovered that he was not at all who he was said to be. He was caring, fun, hilarious, and now, he is one of my closest friends. I respect that he does not care what people think about him.

I have met many other people like him, and I am proud to call them my friends, because they are the people that truly matter to me. They are not afraid to laugh out loud, to yell, and to make heads turn and stare. It does not bother them, and it does not bother me, because, honestly, what someone back in high school, who you do not care about, thinks of you, really does not matter once you graduate. Once we graduate, we will see that there are so many different types of people out there, outside of our little, sheltered world of Healdsburg. We will see that it does not matter how much your family has, or how much your pants cost, but rather, who you are as a person, and the things that you stand for. Maybe then everyone will realize that people who are different, are not freaks, they are just the ones who are brave enough to be true to themselves.

By listening to the opinions of others, you lose sight of your own opinion, and if you cannot learn to push aside the judgmental critics, you will never accept the differences, and you will never see the magnificence in the vibrant colors. You will be stuck, spread upon a dull, monochromatic canvas, and you will miss out on what is truly beautiful. This, I believe.