Hello fellow students, and welcome to another dandy day at Bergen Technical High School, Borough of Teterboro, Bergen County, New Jersey, Tri-state area, Mid-atlantic state, East Coast of the United States of America, North America, Northern Hemisphere, Earth, Solar System, Sol System, Milky Way Galaxy, Virgo Supercluster, the Universe. Even though we only make up a small part of everything, our school falls under a lot of classifications. It’s like we’re a Thuidium delicatulum, a moss commonly found in Northern New Jersey. Oh look, that’s another classification I missed. Why do we have to give all of these labels to everything– even to ourselves? This is what we will discuss today through the topic of “being yourself”.
Can we ever really be ourselves? Maybe. It depends on our definition of “being yourself.” One could think that being yourself refers to finding your own interests, hobbies, line of work. Maybe it means letting your individual personality shine past your commercialized clothes. But the thing is, nobody will ever tell you to be yourself if your true self is mean and cranky and any other negative adjective. So then, who really can you be?
From the time that we are conceived, all we have is outside information, hurtling towards us like that super fast bullet train in Japan. Then how can we really be ourselves given this constant pressure to be a certain way, even if we don’t realize it until it’s staring us in the face? Consider the moment when you realize you are too thin, or not thin enough to fit in that dress that looks so pretty on the mannequin. Or that time when somebody asks you what books, movies, TV shows, music, you listen to, and you are afraid to reply. Nobody wants to be judged. So almost everybody tries to like pop culture, even a little bit, so that they can fit in. So we fit ourselves into these comprehensible boxes of personalities. He’s smart, she’s outgoing. But rarely do we call people that like different things with positive names. Even the least judgmental among us have thought of somebody as “quirky.” When do we call people “sincere” and “genuine”?
I find people are themselves the most when they are either anonymous or with a group of people that understands them. During these times, people do not feel the pressure of societal standards as much, and can do nearly anything. This is when people unabashedly share their feelings, both positive and negative. This is when people make nasty anonymous comments. This is when people confess their undying love for one another. But the thing is, we would never do this in real life. Maybe with a blaze of courage and an undetermined outcome; maybe.
I would like to harken back to prehistory, when our species was not homo sapien, but some devolved form– homo habilis, perhaps? Back to when we were all but hunter-gatherers, and we had to form bands and groups to survive. When we relied on each other for food, shelter, and protection. When we went out hunting, and it was essential to recognize a fellow human. In that time period, the larger groups were generally more powerful and well-protected. This pattern translates through to present times, in which people still look for those that are similar to them. This reassures people that they all belong to some place. Through this, we can see that it is in our genetic code to want to agree with the group, and to not be ourselves. What we do is mold ourselves to fit in and then lead ourselves to believe this is truly who we are. In fact, those anonymous times when we make our passionate, almost animalistic remarks are the times when we might just be the most ourselves, and I think that we are scared of that. We want to play it safe and not take a lot of risk.
The final point is, does any of this even matter? So what if most of us are not the unique individuals we think we are? That does not stop us from feeling happy. The old cavemen and cavewomen gave us these traits so that we would all feel content when we belong. So even if you are not especially unique, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a great personality, and a great deal to offer. Being yourself is different from being true to yourself. While the former reflects your personality, the latter reflects your morals. As teenagers, we change as we mature, but our morals remain the same and keep us grounded. Be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to carve out a new facet of yourself. Remember: if nobody was intrepid enough to share their uniqueness, then we would not be where we are today, and we would not have the society of today. Keep having and sharing those unique thoughts that make up the very best you!
Author: Raquelle Rothschild