The Power of Individuality

Brian - Alexandria, Virginia
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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When I was asked to share something I strongly believed in, I was completely overwhelmed. I realized that I have no strong religious beliefs, no political views to discuss, and no significant life-altering experiences. Yet, all of the characteristics that I have listed make up who I am, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of them. Therefore, I believe it is important to always be yourself. There are many factors that define a person. The three factors that I find most influential on me include my clothing, my family and friends, and my personal outlook on life.

In fourth grade, I began skateboarding. With this sport came its own style of skater clothing. Unfortunately, with this fashion came its own set of negative stereotypes. Many people believed that skaters were merely trouble-makers who vandalize public property, defy authority, and use drugs. However, I never lived up to that stereotype and I still proudly wear the skater clothes, because I feel they have become a part of my identity.

My friends and family have also had a large influence on the person I have become. By seeing the success of my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, I am inspired to make them proud. They have always told me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it, and I feel that this encouragement has made me a much better person.

My friends have had a significant influence on me as well. This is not to say that my friends control my actions. Rather, I feel that my friends have been crucial in helping me along the path of self discovery. They have taught me the importance of companionship; showing me that when others are there for me, it is easier for me to do the same in return.

I am proud to say that my friendships haven’t been developed based around the common social cliques that existed in high school. I gained friends from all over the social spectrum: popular and unpopular. I was also not afraid to stand up for those who could not defend themselves. While this sometimes hurt the image others had of me, in the end it showed me who my real friends were.

The final and most important component that makes me who I am is my personal outlook on life. Throughout my life, I have learned that by living life to the fullest, being optimistic during difficult times, and being open to new experiences, I have been much better off.

While I do not wish to impose a certain mindset on anyone in this world, I do feel that it is important to be yourself no matter what the cost. If everyone is open to the differences of others, we are enabled to draw our own conclusions, speak our minds, and diversify our culture without the fear of being criticized. This, in the end, will improve the quality of society.