How Teens Can Leave A Positive Handprint on the World

May 23, 2008
By Molly Fessler, Canton, MI

In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance, he discusses an issue that has plagued humans through the ages…Conformity. Emerson may have been alive a while ago, but teens especially can still learn from what he observed decades ago, and take it as an opportunity to revisit ourselves.
The first question, is really to ask what conformity is in today’s society… and what is non-conformity. Is it not wearing Hollister, is it listening to Regina Spektor, eating tofu…is it doing drugs?
We discussed Self Reliance in my English class recently and it surprised me that a great many of my classmates felt they were the true rebels. I don’t think any of us can claim to be non-conformists. As long as we brush our teeth, wear shoes, and take out our garbage every week, we follow the silent (yet harsh if broken) rules society sets for us.
Perhaps the only thing we can really accomplish in the fight for individuality is to look at the little things. Some efforts to upstage our ordered world are silly or downright stupid (like doing drugs) but some have the potential to change the world. We can examine our bias, misconceptions, and stereotypes that stem from conformity. Emerson argues, and so do I, that anyone who ever did anything worthwhile, had to swim against the tide. Maybe we can stick up for the kid who’s being picked on. We could defend what we believe, even if everyone else thinks it’s stupid. We could (GASP!) try the tofu.
For those of us who truly believe in being uniquely ourselves, we can take comfort and courage. Emerson said, “To be great, is to be misunderstood.”
Just like Emerson, we know in our hearts we’re something different. We’ll leave some positive handprint on this world.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.

Parkland Book