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The Shell Game This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Put on your smile, or at least a smirk. Cock your hips and tilt your head to show off your “attitude.” Laugh at that joke even though you know it’s mean or just dumb. Better yet, smile broadly when you feel nothing at all, because if you’re living as a shell, it better be a shiny one. No, wait, maybe you should put on a grander mask. Cry and bellow when a person snickers at you. Draw attention! Let your tears be glitter. Let them add true sparkle to your shell. And for goodness sake, take everything seriously. Because, if one person starts laughing, then maybe someone will notice your mask is just a mask and your shining shell has no life in it. Without that shell, that mask, where would you be? What would you be? Yep, that’s right - you’d be nothing. And then you might have to start working at being something. No fun!

Walk by the other shells. Smile blankly at their blank smiles. And weep vacantly on their styrofoam shoulders. Watch the news. See people starving in third-world countries. Ignore it, because what good does it do you to know that people suffer real pain?

Indifference comes from looking inside and seeing nothing, and looking at others and seeing yourself. But what does that really matter? Yeah, you have more important things to worry about. You need to make sure everyone likes you. It is an achievement to act like everyone else and be liked by everyone else. It takes a complete lack of individuality. Bravo!

Who needs individuals anyway? This is the perfect time to conform. It’s not like the world is heating up or wars are taking place. There is no threat of nuclear attack. Our rights as Americans are not being threatened by the government. Politicians are not corrupt. Oh, and the world is made of fairy dust.

What you should do is go home and listen to some music. Turn up that soulless top-40 so you can sing along with the “I heart you” music that plays nonstop for your listening pleasure. And after that you should watch a reality show about some guy who dates 20 chicks at once to see which one he’d like to date a little bit longer. Call your buddies and reminisce over the day’s events and how stupid that girl’s outfit was. Really, did you see that skirt she wore with those boots? It’s like she was trying to be unique or possibly even herself. Disgusting. Then you should flip through Cosmo Girl and figure out what you need to do to be less ugly. Don’t worry, you don’t have to improve your personality or flawed traits, just put on some pink lipgloss and you’re a new person!

While you do that, I plan on living, moving forward, changing, and learning. I research. I watch the news. I move toward a career that will provide information, not to the general public (which is you) but to individuals who will utilize it. I will be part of a movement that fights for something. I won’t sit and watch the world melt. I won’t let my rights as a U.S. citizen slip away. I will use my voice to speak and ask questions. I will not be content.

But don’t mind me. Sit in front of your television. Eat your low-carb diets. Laugh at those jokes that you don’t understand. And please, fade away and retreat behind your mask and into your shell, because we don’t need you.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

Feathered_mortal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm
I think it's great that you can express your opinions so openly. It takes real courage to speak out like that. Well done!
 
katty said...
Dec. 2, 2010 at 4:01 pm
Totally agree. You sound completely obnoxious. There is no way a college can read this and respect the writer as a person, much less a valuable student, sorry. I see why you chose to write in this tone, but your tone is absolutely hateful.
 
yapp replied...
Dec. 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm
I absolutely think that colleges want someone of substance who has a true insight into themselves and the world. This is so much better than an essay about how football changed your life.
 
eric said...
Sept. 27, 2010 at 4:49 pm

You sound like a real jerk. It's good to be interested in the world and learning, and it's okay to feel frustrated with people's obsession with popularity or looks, but don't act like you're so much better than everyone else. Look me in the eyes and tell me you've never felt pressure to conform. Tell me you don't want other people to like you and that you don't care about what you look like. And what have you done to help starving people in third-world countries or global warming? Sorry for a... (more »)

 
Eutanzi said...
Sept. 4, 2009 at 6:05 pm
I shining example of good writing. Held my interest. Keep on going!
 
jay said...
Jan. 1, 2009 at 12:40 am
This is awesome! It's at once biting and motivating. Great writing!
 
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