But this year, I was thrown a curveball.
I have this one friend (not a Memphian, so don't play the guessing game with me) whose personality is so inconsistent that it actually makes me want to rip my hair out. This friend and I will go through a two-week stretch in which I genuinely believe we are developing a strong friendship, but, in what seems to be a split second, s/he reverts back to the same toolish behavior that I so passionately despise. What's frustrating about this friendship is that I can't decide if I should wait it out and see if their true personality will come out to stay, or if I should just throw in the towel and let them make a fool of themselves every time they open their mouth.
This one friendship is a personal conflict, not one I want to bore you with. What I really wanted to talk about, which has been appropriately introduced by the characterization of this friend, is how depressing it is that some people spend their entire school day and beyond acting like someone they're not. This case of my friend is the furthest thing from unordinary.
Often times I will walk into school and look around at the people I'm surrounded by. Just taking a look is enough to induce fascination. I look to my right and I see one peer sitting in the corner of the room, trying desperately to adjust his sense of humor so that it will fit another peer's standards of "funny." I look to my left and I see another peer wearing pants tight enough that it causes me physical pain, trying so hard to wear what society labels as being "in."
Just the other day, I met up with a friend who I was once close with at a restaurant. I had always respected them for being unique, for knowing exactly who they were and what they wanted from themselves.
Notice the past tense.
I was astonished and saddened to find that they, too, had fallen prey to mainstream practices such as the excessive application of make-up or the ever-so-terrifying artificial tanning.
Many criticize me for being outspoken and frank (they just call me a dick), and that's very understandable. I'm open to criticism, even if it does upset me. The reason I can deal with someone insulting my character is because I'm confident in the fact that I act in a way that reflects my true character. My true self isn't masked by cover-up or manipulated by mascara. My true self is almost always on display, a fact that is met with the distaste of many, and, hopefully, the respect of many more.
I don't know what it is that makes people conform so easily. I don't know if it's the human tendency to want to fit in, or the desire to look like the most idolized model in a Victoria's Secret magazine, but I do know that it's a very sad thing.
It's a sad thing that people can't just be happy with who they are. It's a sad thing that many can't be comfortable with themselves and, instead of trying to conform to fit others' expectations, go out and find similar friends who will accept them for who they truly are.
I was visiting a college recently when I had this long talk with one of my friends. She told me how much she enjoyed the writing of Stephen Chbosky, who many may know as the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. While I wish I had the time to read the novel my friend was raving about, I settled for simply watching the movie.
It was life changing.
For those who haven't seen it, it's a coming of age story about a mentally disturbed young man who finds a group of friends in which he can be his true self, on full display for all to see. This movie has had a profound impact on my life. It's created a calling in me. It's made me want to be somebody who can help show those people who think they must conform to achieve happiness that they are wrong.
As I said, I pride myself on being able to distinguish between those who are real and those who are fake. Well, it's a blessing and a curse. The reason for it being a blessing is obvious, it helps me choose the right people to share my life with. But the fact that it's a curse is a tad more complicated.
The fact that I can spot a facade from a mile away creates a perpetual mood of sympathy and disappointment within me. I look around at all these people and I just feel bad for them. I just wish they'd know that if they were to shave their hair off, if they were to, oh, I don't know, start a blog, then they would be doing something that shows true strength of character. The reason I use these two examples is because, in both instances, one is not conforming to typical societal norms (like long hair and concealed thoughts). Instead, they are looking deep within themselves and doing something that makes them happy, regardless of what anybody else thinks.
I guess that's the main point here. I guess that's the message I'm trying to convey to those of you who are reading this now.
Stop giving a damn about what others think and just be yourself. If you can become comfortable with who you really are deep down, you will find your group and you will become that social butterfly you've always wanted to be.
I personally value independent thought more than I do a make-up riddled face that makes one look like a Taiwanese whore.
Stop caring about what other people think and go out and do you. I know it sounds cliche, and I know it's easier said than done, but don't you think it's at least worth a try?
And, who knows, if it's human tendency to conform to what's "in," then let's make that "in" thing something positive like a strong sense of character and a determination to be yourself, despite the difficulties or trials that await you.