Oh the Material Things

September 8, 2010
By back.pack.5 BRONZE, Moraga, California
back.pack.5 BRONZE, Moraga, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I remember those danger years of middle school. Going into sixth grade was a major transition because I had to leave the school that I had been attending for six years, which had become a major part of my life. My comforting routine of attending a class with only one teacher was broken and I was thrust into unknown territory...middle school. This is the time when friends come and go as they begin to change with maturity, seemingly becoming new people. Almost every teenage girl begins to feel insecure about herself and about who she is. As a fifth grader, I felt like the leader of the school, but then sixth grade began and I suddenly felt as if I was at the bottom of the food chain, feeling vulnerable and as if all of those naive sixth grader jokes were directly targeted at me.

The first day of middle school, people changed. A girl who always came to school in stained and torn clothes was suddenly wearing short shorts and makeup. It was different to see everyone become suddenly self conscious, and I desperately tried to maintain my young fifth grade attitude. Everybody wanted to fit in because being a sixth grader already earned you unwanted attention, but being stereotyped as a loser would guarantee you a spot as an outcast for the next three years. I remember how much I tried to fight this sudden change. I whole-heartedly longed for the innocence of elementary school when no one cared about clothes or people’s hairstyles, all they cared about was being first to play the four square game, or who could catch the most lizards under the wooden benches. I tried to ignore the gossip and let the cuss words escape my ears in an attempt to maintain my fifth grade bliss; after all, I’m only young once. Why did everything have to change in less than three months of summer? I felt like the same person, but why didn’t anyone else?

In an attempt to fit in, each girl discovered new, cool accessories, such as the greatest invention known to man...the hair straightener. Girls would spend tons of money to have perfectly flat hair without one strand out of place. Each girl looked the same from behind, and that seemed to be exactly what they were looking for, an easy way to fit in and look the same. Of course, there were also the Uggs. Oh, my, god. To some, they were the coolest thing to ever come out. They were expensive and different...they were the hottest rave. I remember everyone having them and me wanting them desperately. My mom always refused to buy them because they were too expensive, too cliche. She purposely would not get them for me because everyone had them, and I resented her for it. Why wouldn’t she let me have something so innocent as a pair of shoes? I constantly would ask why she cared so much and she always replied, “You’ll learn in time.”

Well, here is time and sure enough I understand. Buying me a pair of Uggs would be like signing away my individuality. My mom wanted to teach me that shoes don’t define a person, that it is unnecessary to have something just for a label. I always ask myself, why act like everyone else just to belong? If you dress differently and stay true to your heart, you actually earn respect and admiration from your classmates. By dressing differently, not necessarily outrageous, but not constantly with the trends, you are able to show that you are secure with yourself and who you are. I know people admire this because the kids in middle school are insecure with themselves and seeing somebody able to express their personality makes them understand that being different is good. Seeing a person able to flaunt their individuality gives them the confidence they need to express their own differences.

My best friend taught me this priceless lesson of individuality and personal expression. She showed me that dressing on your own accord is the best thing that a person can do. She would wear plaid skirts with striped shirts and bulky necklaces, paired with vintage, old-lady earrings. Of course the clothes would just work for her because that aura of boldness and independence radiating from her outfit is exactly who she is. I always thought she was crazy and pattern blind, but nevertheless, I always admired her ability to just walk out of her house wearing something so audacious. It takes a person with real guts and a lot of confidence to pull off an outfit like that, and that is something nobody can negatively judge a person for. Not fitting in with the the sea of people is staying true to yourself, and realizing this truth in time is how I survived those dangerously insecure years of middle school.

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece for my English class my sophomore year of high school. I showed it to my twin sister she really enjoyed it because she remembered those experiences, even my teacher did who read it. I hope that someone who reads it will find the courage to just express themselves for who they are, no matter how cliche that sounds, because being yourself really is the most brave thing you could ever do.

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