Own Drum

Sarah - Wellesley, Massachusetts
Entered on March 8, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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A confession: I’ve never bought any of my clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch. I’m a teenager in America and I do not own anything from that sacrosanct store. However, this is just one of the places I deviate from the normal standards. For me, it’s much more fun to be different, to be in the minority, than it is to be like everyone else.

Back in fourth grade, I decided to cut my hair short. I came out of the salon with hair that barely fell over my ears. I remember being slightly apprehensive. Every other girl had long, flowing locks. I, on the other hand, had chosen a less popular style. Although I initially had my doubts, I grew to love my hair. It was truly my hair; I hadn’t stolen the style from any of my peers. That brought with it a sense of satisfaction. No one else at my school looked like me. It was highly liberating.

Our semi-formal dance was earlier this year. Instead of buying a dress, I decided to make mine. I spent hours in front of a sewing machine, stitching up hems and trying to perfect my design. I finished it, just in time to wear it to the dance. Predictably, I was the only person who had made her outfit. Standing amongst my black clad peers in my homemade creation was a bit intimidating. However, I received many compliments and expressions of surprise that I had actually sewn it. The sense of pride I felt was exhilarating. My dress was different, but it still earned me respect.

I don’t watch TV. It’s the digital age, cable and TiVo are everywhere, and I still cannot tell you what happened last night on The Office. I was brought up in a family where there was a low emphasis on television. However, my mother never expressly forbade me to watch TV shows. But the thing is, I didn’t want to watch television. I never saw the appeal of relaxing in front of the TV. I find that I am able to do other interesting things with my time, such as practice my instruments or read. Sure, I can’t relate to my friends when they go off on tangents about Gossip Girl. However, I get much more fulfillment out of a good book. What’s the point of trying to be like everyone else if it isn’t as rewarding?

As I’ve grown up, I’ve constantly been bombarded with statements such as “It’s okay to be different.” Throughout elementary school, my classes were filled with lessons on celebrating diversity and developing a unique personality. And yet, I think this information is easy to disregard, especially during the middle and high school years. People don’t always want to stand out.

Perhaps I live in my own, extreme world. Doing things differently is not a lifestyle that suits everyone. However, by breaking out of some cookie-cutter molds, I have been able to enjoy my life just that little bit more.