Being Yourself

I want to take a second to discuss something that I have had trouble with in the past. I believe in 6th grade is when I realized my peers started caring about what they had on, who they hung out with, and what they were doing that other people weren’t. I find it so sad that everyone was involved in this judgmental war amongst one another as we are in the most awkward stage of life. Around the end of middle school leading into high school, all of the people around me had formed these cliques  based on like minded views and exclusivity. I know this may sound a little ridiculous to some people, but I know this happens all over the world. Judgment combined with packs meant war among these groups. I swear it was similar to a jail without the spanking. The staff all tried to keep us out of trouble as we venture from class to class like ants from mound to mound. I felt very out of place as I came to the realization that I didn’t fit in or belong to any of these groups of students. Out of fear I started changing the way I dresses, what I was interested in, and who I interacted with so that I wouldn’t feel so out of place in this every day experience for 4 years called high school. So I started by trying to fit in with the so called “black” crowd because that’s what everyone seemed to notice about me. In my head it was my most unique characteristic since that’s all my peers ever talked about. So I tried to be the popular black stereotype of 2005. Now anyone who knows me…at all, knows that I am no where near that “sterotype”. And every kid in school knew that I was faking it too. The black crowd in my school laughed me right out of those clothes calling me an “oreo” and “cupcake” (because of the Hostess chocolate cupcake). I heard several times, why are you dressed like that, you’re not even really black. As I look back, I wish I could have asked everyone who said that, what does being “black” actually mean? Because what I’ve learned is that there’s no definition. Still not knowing that, I spent the last two years of high school trying to fit in with some different groups adjusting who I was so that I could blend in and be accepted. My plan worked, but I never really felt like myself except around a group of old friends that I had known before middle school. As I think back, we all had separate groups of friends that we were a part of when becoming a Chameleon was necessary. After we graduated, I started to ask myself, is everyone just faking it to fit in? So I decided to try something else for a change; instead of assimilating with a group, I wanted to sit back and study what was going to happen during our first year of college. My hypothesis was correct…every single one of my classmates that went to college and joined groups of belonging where they adapted to fit in. I sat back and started developing myself, studying, and testing the waters of many interesting topics. We have graduated now and that same facade that I’m talking about is still prevalent at work and our social lives. I’ve even see it among mothers and children in play date groups. I understand that everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging, but I just want everyone to be a little more original. Having a new idea can change the world. Don’t you want to be a leader instead of a follower?!

Tell me what you want to do…

Twitter & Instagram: @mrvancepaynter

 

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