Dare to be different

Lana - Loveland, Colorado
Entered on April 28, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe that we should strive to be different, be our own person, and be who we want to be without the fear of what others think.

Groups. I once compared them to the feeling of a “caged bird” in a literacy paper. Often people think of cliques as things that exclude people and are mean to people outside of the group. I have to agree, but most people don’t realize that cliques and groups are also like a cage keeping people in.

When I belonged to a group, I thought I liked it, possibly because I didn’t know any better. As a teenage girl, it felt good to have the feeling that I belonged somewhere and that I always have a place to go. I soon found out that I was wrong. There is always a downside to groups.

I was limited . . . to friends, to activities, and to relationships. When I belonged to a group, I was pretty much required to be friends with (and enemies with) certain people. I couldn’t be friends with someone that the group wasn’t friends with or talk to people outside of the group. If one person had an argument with someone or grudge against them, then the whole group did. We were one person, all the same. I was afraid to do sports my friends weren’t doing. I was afraid of walking alone and going places without someone by my side. I couldn’t have relationships with guys that my friends didn’t like, even if I did.

When I realized some of these things, I thought it was just my group. I thought this group wasn’t for me and that I needed to find a new one. I tried this. Sitting at other tables and trying out different groups. That’s when I finally realized it. I wanted freedom more than anything. It wasn’t that I needed another group, it was that I needed to be free and not belong to one at all!!

As soon as I quit belonging to a group, many things happened. I found it way easier to make new friends. If someone didn’t like someone from my group, sometimes it was impossible to be friends with them. But if I didn’t have a group, there was nothing stopping me.

I found it easier to be myself and say what I want to say. I could be independent and do things without any barriers holding me back.

I then learned to not judge people before you know them. Not to hate someone just because someone else does. Get to know them yourself before you take others’ word for it. I made countless friends this way.

Lastly, I learned to be my own person and be who I want to be. Act how I want to and do what I want to do without the fear that other people are judging me. If they are, then who cares?!? That’s their problem and it doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t bother me if they think I’m weird. Most people will respect me in the long run for having the courage to be myself.

I have learned so much in less than a year and I will never forget it. I just need to remember to be myself and not worry about what others think. I want to just live my life without looking back.