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Freedom and Non-Conformity
What is happiness? Would we trade it for the comfort of being accepted by our peers? A way to be happy is living your life to the fullest, to use your potential to pursue passions and dreams. One of the main reasons so many people are dissatisfied with their lives is they’re working in a job, a career, or a business that they don’t like, or even hate. They settle for less than they deserve and this makes people feel as if they live without meaning. Socrates once said: “An unexamined life is a life not worth living.” I have seen many people live without meaning in their lives and because of that, they became depressed. They had taken on bad habits in a vain effort to reach an acceptable level of happiness. We must fill our lives with meaning and strive to live with God always because that is the only way to be truly happy. Most times, people will exchange happiness for acceptance by society, they will exchange happiness to ‘fit in.’ They conform because they feel comfortable with “going with the flow”. Due to this wanted assurance and comfort from others, they live their life according to people’s whims and they don’t realize their true potential to do things. Don’t fall victim to the jaws of the great beast by conforming and losing your identity. Being free, allows you to make your own choices out of your own free will to not conform to society that pressures you into doing something you don’t want.
People all over the world in the past used to be misjudged by gender and skin color. People seemed to think: “Oh you are a girl! You can’t do anything!” Or “You can’t become a doctor or a scientist because you have dark skin!” Think of what Marie Curie accomplished…and she was a girl. Think of what Frederick Douglas achieved …and he was black. Think of Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Jane Austen, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, and Anne Frank just to name a few. All these influential people were either black or women, or both. And look how they have changed the world. All of these wonderful people rose up to life’s challenges and followed what they thought was right, despite what society said. Being black or a female doesn’t serve to judge a person. Nor what they wear or how they talk or how they look. It is who they are and how they act where you can base your judgment on them. It is what you do and what you contribute that makes a difference in the world. Take Mother Teresa. Perhaps the most famous woman of the twentieth century is a small, frail-looking nun by the name of Mother Teresa. It was soon after the end of the Second World War when she felt a calling from God to work with the poorest of India’s half a million citizens. With abundant love, she took care of them and showed them compassion by feeding, clothing them and protecting them from sickness. It is clear: Mother Teresa can contribute as much as any man or as much as any white-colored person. Mother Teresa followed the path that God wanted for her and in doing so, fulfilled her purpose. She was following her true calling and did not pay heed to other’s jeers and ‘put-downs’ whenever she made a step towards her goal. George Bernard Shaw once said, “The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them. ”
This could also be true of modern-day teenagers. Teenagers today ranging from 14-18, want to be “cool”, that’s a simple fact and totally understood. Everyone wants to be accepted but what everyone doesn’t seem to realize is that in trying to fit in, they lose a piece of themselves forever. To be honest, I had trouble with this too. But it didn’t go too far because I had true friends who kept me aware and family, like my dad, who poured out his theories and self - awareness warnings, every night at dinner. I woke up – jarred by the splash of cold water of reality. And since then, I haven’t fallen back asleep every again. Not a wink.
But it was tempting, very tempting, because each day when I went to school, I was either put down in the most subtle ways by others because I was different or I was interrupted during conversations because I wasn’t popular and because of that, somehow didn’t matter. I was torn between choosing to be me, and conforming to what others said. And I knew that all that would come out of that attention would be their unsatisfying flatteries and honeyed words tripping with falsity. It wouldn’t be real. “Most people want security in this world, not liberty.” But I couldn’t stand it anymore: the ignoring, the interruptions, the invisibility, the superficiality. Most people, though not all, want to be the same as everyone else: to conform, to ‘fit in,’ to please, to shine, to stand out. They want to be popular. They want to be known, not for who they really are, but for someone superficial and loud and flashy. Well, let me tell you something. We are all unique, we are all the children of God on a mission in this world. Remember, labels are for objects, not people. Say, “I wear polka dot sweatshirts with multicolored bunnies on my pants and am not even ashamed of my neon-green sneakers. I would rather be embarrassing and unnatural rather than another shade of gray.” Whatever your reason, if you are afraid of being bullied or want to be popular, you shouldn’t have to conform to society and what your peers say. Stand up for what you believe is right. “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Winston Churchill.
We’re not robots. We’re people. And we should be treated and treat each other as such. Don’t leave that boy crying on the steps alone. Don’t leave him with a broken heart, even though to comfort him would mean losing points with your new gang. “Nature made us individuals, as she did the flowers and the pebbles; but we are afraid to be peculiar, and so our society resembles a bag of marbles, or a string of mold candles. Why should we all dress after the same fashion? The frost never paints my windows twice alike.” By Lydia Maria Child.
To be truly happy, we need be ourselves, to follow Him, serving our true purpose in the world, and living according to the right path. I never said it wouldn’t be hard. But sometimes, “the hardest path is the one you’ve got to take.” I can’t stop you from doing what you want. I can’t change your heart. No one can. But no matter what you do, remember this: being uniquely good, you bring something new, utterly fresh and different. You give a gift to the world just by being alive and being your true selves. We bloom like a flower when we feed our souls with the goodness of God. This is why we shouldn’t live superficially and only on the surface, because then we lose sight of the goal.
It isn’t the knowledge that is important but what you do with it that makes a difference. So you might have listened very closely to this long, boring speech – or not. But even if it is emblazoned into your mind and you stay put in one place like a rock, it doesn’t change a thing. The effort changes everything. Stay true to yourself and Him and follow your dreams, no matter how hard the rest throw you down.
The Face in the Glass:
“......And you know you have passed your most dangerous test
If the face in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of life
And get pats on your back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you've cheated the face in the glass.”
~ Dale Wimbrow ~