The World's a Box

September 26, 2009
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“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Contrary to popular belief, the human world is not round—it’s just a big box. Sorry Galileo. My humblest apologies Magellan. Australia, I don’t know how you handle hanging upside down like that. The world used to be round, back when there was freedom, back when there was still some value to individuality.
“I value individuality,” an indignant voice shouts from the crowd, faceless in the dim lights of the hall. “I’m an individual.” Of course he’s an individual, marked so clearly by his Hollister shirt, Abercrombie cologne, and Converse shoes. I can’t imagine how I missed that brilliant individuality, or, for that matter, the “individuals” on either side of him in parallel apparel.
As I was saying, we don’t live on a sphere, we live within a carefully constructed steel cube—a box. If you can’t fit in this box, if you so much as rub against its unyielding edges, you’d better get your hands on a space shuttle or prepare to be ground down till you slide in appropriately. Hardly anyone can get their hands on suitable space-craft these days, so it’s likely a personality-sandblast will be coming your way.
“It’s true,” says a sensible woman sitting in the first row, just off-center. “There’s so much pressure to—“ “Poor you,” Captain Individuality bellows coldly from a few seats back. “Yeah, poor you,” his mindless twins chirp mockingly. She’s startled to silence, and with expressions of self-satisfaction, the homogenous triplet of “individuals” know they’ve done their job. Order is restored.
I can’t stress enough my distaste for society’s hypocrisy. We say things like be yourself, or be all you can be, and we never mean it. We see someone who is unlike us and ostracize them for their (God forbid!) incongruities. As if hypocrisy wasn’t enough, it had to drag irony into the mix too.
No one is content to be so confined, and yet we try to contort ourselves to earn the respect of our peers. You have to be beautiful, you have to be a genius, you have to be involved, you have to be social, and you have to live in fear of who you might actually be. If everyone could focus on their own identity instead of playing a judgmental form of social Dominoes, instead of incessantly picking and being picked at, we’d live in a far more constructive world.
“Someone’s just mad they aren’t normal,” Captain Individuality chastises, guffawing heartily as if in triumph. If it’s normal to be so bland and ignorant, I’m happy to keep normal at a safe distance.
The audience jeers in robotic unison, and I look at that woman in the center row. She too laughs. She laughs with bright, fiery eyes and sagaciously upturned lips, not at me, but at them.
The audience jeers, but there’s only one person on this stage.

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This article has 7 comments. Post your own now!

bEllAhOPe said...
Aug. 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm
I enjoyed reading this. The message is complex, yet you wrote it in such a smooth manner. I am impressed. Kudos.
JoPepper said...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm
You're so right, we should be trying to stand out more. Ecspecially me. Yeah we're all hypocrites. :p 
SpringRayyn said...
Mar. 4, 2011 at 10:38 pm
I liked how you used an audience in this thingy. But I would like to protest against the converse shoes thing. I wear converse because they're comfy and I like them myself. otherwise I don't wear name brand stuff. And also I draw on my shoes. :)
WillowFalls This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 10, 2011 at 10:05 am
This was great! Funny and unique (well, of course, it was unique, but still...) Too true also; I'd really like to be myself and all, but if I tried, I'd quite possibly be crucified.
songofheaven said...
Apr. 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm
Perfect. I think this really describes a lot of Middle and High Schools. It's as if everyone's staring at you. I'd like to come in to school for a day in a Zeppelin t-shirt you namely see on guys, and see what people say. I think it'd be really interesting to see how they'd try to make me feel bad.
ohhkar said...
Oct. 30, 2009 at 3:34 pm
(: i love this.
Xavier L. replied...
Nov. 1, 2009 at 8:47 pm
I know this is a little late, but thanks! :D
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