True Identity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     Imagine if this world were like piano keys, an ebony and ivory dullness except for one person - you. You would rather stand out with a tutu, fishnet stockings and combat boots. You like wearing your hair in every style from an Afro to Mohawk and never care what anyone thinks. You, my friend, have inherited a gift many have lost in a society conquered by conformity.

In seventh grade, I hung around the popular kids - the ones who never had to try to impress anyone because everyone had to impress them. They were cool without trying and one would not dare do something they thought was dorky. More important, you would not hang out with someone they didn't like.

That is why I would never be caught associating with Crystal. She preferred loud rock music like Rancid and the Deftones to the extremely popular N*Sync. She wore big t-shirts with cartoon characters and names of bands, gigantic pants, and dozens of bracelets. She looked too weird to be anywhere near normal.

One day my pen ran out of ink. "Can I borrow your pen?" I asked Crystal.

"Sure," she said, green eyes blazing with their well-known enthusiasm. "That test was so hard," she said.

"Yeah, I know, and I actually studied," I said. I noticed she wore a "What Would Jesus Do" bracelet.

"You believe in God?" I asked.

"Yeah, I go to church every week."

The more we talked, the more it turned out we had in common. The image of the eccentric goth chick transformed into a mirror image of me. She was someone who liked to eat just about anything, sleep late, read horror novels and watch movies. She was "normal" like the rest of us.

By the middle of the year, my old friends stopped being interesting. I got tired of making fun of people because they were not like me. I was having fun with someone I didn't have to impress. I got to be myself around her.

"Why does she want to hang around with her?" one of my popular friends asked, under her breath. I ignored her as Crystal, in her neon-green Converse sneakers, and I walked into the assembly. The giggles and sneers did not bother me. I broke off those friendships and tried to stand on my own. It was a formidable task trying to develop my own identity when I had lost it trying to have someone else's. I began to talk to the people I once made fun of and they were better friends than I ever imagined.

By eighth grade, poetry, food and a love of movies had brought Crystal and me together into a sacred sisterhood. We told each other our deepest secrets and dreams. To accept others, you have to accept yourself and in order to do that, you have to like who you are. When you look in the mirror, you should love the person staring back at you. Being unique is a blessing, and I am grateful I realized it before I lost it completely. c

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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Rhea V. said...
Apr. 2, 2009 at 6:13 pm
Popular kids are the ones kids really shouldn't hang with. They want you to do things for them, admire them and even kiss up to them. But you have to find kids who are just like you.
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