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Being Ordinary This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Individuality and uniqueness are two of the most prestigious and coveted traits for millions of teenagers and adults alike across the globe. The media, the entertainment industry, the fashion industry, along with the most persuasive of forces – one’s own mind – all concoct the idea that conventionalism and conformity are boring and bland. In the movie, “American Beauty,” Mena Suvari’s character, Angela Hayes, is quoted as saying, “There’s nothing worse in life than being ordinary.” My greatest obstacle in life has been trying to be just that – ordinary. Regardless of how fiercely I pursued this quest, I always knew it would never be an option.

Identifying myself as a homosexual at a very early age, I always knew that I was different from most other children. Having no one to discuss this internal struggle with, I felt imprisoned in my own body. I meticulously studied the way other males dressed, spoke, ate, walked – anything I could do to convince myself and everyone else that I really wasn’t different. Conforming to what society wanted and expected from a “normal” male was my greatest aspiration.

During my middle-school years, this internal struggle transgressed into an external struggle with the entire world, it seemed, attempting to mold me too. Why was I fighting this? Isn’t it what I had always wanted – to be just like everyone else? Nearly the whole world (at least a good number of people at my middle school) wanted me to be just like them. Well, maybe not just like them, but no one wanted such a vile creature walking among them. Who could blame them? I hated myself most of the time – why shouldn’t they? When questioned about my sexuality, I assured others I was heterosexual, just like them. This constant false reassurance only fueled that hatred I harbored for myself and further distanced me from true happiness, something I never thought really could exist for me.

All I wanted in life was to be ordinary, a face in the crowd that others would soon forget. Individuality was my enemy. Uniqueness was something to be destroyed. My faith in God, which has always been one of the most important parts of my life, was placed in dire jeopardy. I would frequently yell at Him, demanding an answer to why He had made me this way, and why I couldn’t be just like everyone else.

My entrance into high school only increased the “impossibility” of overcoming this obstacle that was restricting me from achieving my potential. Regardless of how diligently I focused on remaining indifferent to my peers’ frequent persecutions, I knew that these remarks were devouring what little self-respect remained. My quest to fade into normalcy had blatantly hit a brick wall, and the only way to overcome it and move forward was to reverse and never return to that dreary dead-end alley that could only lead to self-destruction.

This serendipitous epiphany forced me to realize that for my entire life, I had been fighting myself. I was my biggest enemy. My own mind and asinine sense of judgment had been destroying my life – not society, not other people, not the media. I was. Once I finally acknowledged this fact, it was as if every single shackle that had been keeping me enslaved within myself was immediately dissolved. Happiness was now attainable, true indifference to what others thought was now possible. For the very first time in my life, I could be myself, and I’ve never relished anything as much.

Accepting myself as a homosexual was one of the greatest obstacles I have ever had to overcome and one of the most momentous and happiest moments of my life. Maybe Angela was right. Maybe there really isn’t anything worse in life than being ordinary. Overcoming this obstacle has taught me to always seek your true individuality and to embrace it.

My pastor will occasionally recite a proverb he believes: “God only gives you what you’re capable of handling.” Throughout my life and my struggle to overcome this obstacle, I have found that proverb to be nothing short of the absolute truth. Now I understand why God chose to make me this way. He knew I could handle it; He knew I would eventually embrace my individuality with great earnestness, and He knew I’d overcome this obstacle.

Looking back, it’s hard to fathom how I managed to survive without being able to be myself. God has blessed you with the most magical gift of all: your life. Don’t spend it conforming to what you think society expects or wants. Seek out your individuality, as Dr. Seuss said, “Always be yourself, as those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” Make the very most of your life. There isn’t any obstacle you can’t overcome. Trust me.

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!

reenay_95 said...
Oct. 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm:
let me tell you, my life has been a lot like that too. i was always weirder and slightly smarter than the other kids from elementary-middle school, so i tried hard to conform. it took a toll on me-a lot of my individuality and creativity was lost. i'm working hard to regain it.
 
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dylonmichael said...
Aug. 1, 2009 at 2:42 am:
Amazing
 
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peacelove041792 said...
Jul. 11, 2009 at 10:06 pm:
WOW! amazing!
lol..wow! i'm completely at a loss for words that will let you know how wonderful this was!
superb job :)
 
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x0sammiii0x said...
Feb. 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm:
This is a great article; beautifully written. The quote you used at the end, Dr Seuss's, is one of my all time favorites, and it really is so true. I also truly beleive in the proverb your pastor recites and I admire you greatly for being able to accept yourself as who you are and as an individual while still keeping your faith. My friend was once Catholic, like me, but since he has come out to his friends and family he has completely lost faith. Beautiful job!
 
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cjl0928 said...
Jan. 14, 2009 at 3:30 am:
Is the the Jared from BPMS? You did a great job on this.
 
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SarynJumail said...
Jan. 1, 2009 at 5:31 am:
I love you for this one. Great job, and thanks for the inspiration... maybe I'll consider coming out...
 
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