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Be Who You Are

When was the last time you acted like someone else, someone different so that you wouldn’t be disliked?

I have an inclination that the answer to that is in the “sooner than I thought” category, and I don’t like it. Like most of you, I used to think that it was okay to change who I am just a bit—tweak it, more like—just so I wouldn’t be hated.

But then I ran into David.

David H., a good buddy of mine now, goes to school with me. No, he doesn’t have a disability, and no, he didn’t accomplish some special feat. What he did had more of an impact on me than if the above were true: he acted like himself.

Amazing, right? David is a very, er, random person, to put it lightly, but he doesn’t conform to the ways of society so that people will like him. He acts like himself. And no, he isn’t mean, or rude, or anything, and yet he’s in the more unpopular crowd just because he dares to be bold, to be himself.

At first, I was like the others. I didn’t sneer at him or taunt him, but I ignored him, kept him in the “nobody” category in the back of my mind. But then I decided to take a look at myself. I realized that while I’m known among some students and I have enough friends, I’m by no means a “popular” student.

And there’s the first thing that David helped me to do—he helped me take a good look at myself, at my naiveté. So I became friends with David, and trust me, it wasn’t—and isn’t—an easy thing to do.

David randomly spews out words or phrases, or says things like, “Cheeky monkeys,” or “Frisky pigeons”, things that he heard on shows or such. It’s very uncomfortable, especially since he now says them to me and I get looks from some students clearly saying, "You're talking to him? I don't know you anymore!".

Even now I openly admit that I sometimes pointedly ignore these remarks or act like he’s talking to someone else just to not be embarrassed. But it’s happening less and less. I look at myself and ask, “Why are you afraid to socialize with this person, this human being who has feelings and thoughts and a mind, just because he’s not afraid to be different, to stand out?”

When I ask some people this, they say stuff like, “He wears the same shirt two days in a row,” and other arguments. One thing comes to my mind:

Do you have anything inside that skull of yours?

It takes all of my strength not to shout that maybe David can’t afford to buy more shirts than the ones he has, maybe money doesn’t come pouring in like it does for the more spoiled, rich kids who get a phone when they ask and brag about their new Ipods.

Yeah, I could bring this up as an argument, but then he’d likely be taunted for it. Cruel kids, no? Seems to me that while some kids are more sympathetic, I’m the only person alongside a few friends (after I became his friend) who mildly easily and openly talk with him.

Now I’m not saying that David is the perfect person. He interrupts people and has bad habits (such as interrupting people) that he won’t get rid of, and a lot of times he’s really, really loud.

But have you met a person who doesn’t have at least one flaw on them? Go ahead, name one person who isn’t either somewhat annoying or obnoxious or cruel, you do that, and I’ll easily take those words and find the flaw that you can’t.

I like standing up for the little guy (kinda full of myself, yeah, but let’s ignore that now), even if he unwittingly makes remarks that create opportunity for insults, but sometimes you have to let people know. Sometimes you have to get someone else to tell them to shut their traps, to stop being so mean. Sometimes you have to tell someone who will make them listen.

That’s why I’m writing this article.

No, there’s no fundraiser or rally, but there is a favor I want to ask of you. Please, just be yourself. Don’t be like others for the sake of your friends or your reputation; it’s not much of one if it’s phony.

Just be who you are, not who you want to be for the sake of others. If you can do that, then, well, you can do just about anything.



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Zªkk said...
Jan. 31, 2009 at 3:32 am
Yea man I get what you mean. Well I have a friend and I can tell he acts like himself but he's popular. He has never changed since I knew him, unlike most people. You don't have to be someone else to be uncool.
 
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