“You need to be yourself to be happy.”
Everyone knows about the incriminating social standards that powerfully exist. Unfortunately, these dreadful social standards have always been prevalent in society; this is not a generational problem. Most times we are scared to be ourselves because of the racking fear of being different, and then being judged for our differences. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.
Like myself, you might have felt this especially during high school. Everyone had a place in high school, and no one challenged the status quo. During those four years I thought I knew who I was. I knew how other people perceived me. I knew that my friends and I sat at the first table to the left during lunchtime. I knew some of my classmates since we were in kindergarten. College would be easy then, right?
Wrong. Entering college, I did not plan on having an identity crisis –but it happened, and with a force so strong that I could not afford to drown in social stigmas anymore. During my first semester at Penn State, I was suddenly lost in a student body of forty thousand people, all of us just a mere fish in the sea trying to figure out the rest of our lives. I totally lost myself and it was time to figure out what changed. However, personal identity is no cakewalk. It can be complicated because we have grown accustomed to relying on social cues since early childhood. So how do we really know who we are? The good news is that there is only one you, so you only have to figure it out once.
I started off small. On a whim I decided to cut my hair. After years of being known as someone with hair that draped down her entire back, I chopped it to my shoulders. I associated my hair with who I was, and the daily compliments I received on my hair confirmed that it was what characterized me. My sense of identity coexisted with my outside appearance so much that I used my hair as a security blanket in times of fruitless confidence. I couldn’t believe that one measly pair of scissors severed not only my cherished hair, but also the strong ties I had with who was –someone I didn’t even feel was myself.
After this milestone more positive changes arose. I began to know myself and didn’t have to pretend anymore. I dressed the way I wanted –whether it was “trendy” or not. I began to speak up for myself because I was so comfortable with who I was. I found my personal values, and held on to them for dear life. I value my own thoughts and instinctively make my own choices. Most importantly, I do not let what others think of me affect what I do in life.
All of this changed my life. I didn’t exactly change everything about myself, I merely accepted and loved myself for who I genuinely was. I have passions, dreams, hopes, aspirations, that all came about with acknowledging my personal identity. Because of this, I see people differently. I see why maybe that girl dresses differently, or why that boy in my class isn’t afraid to voice his opinions every five minutes. I may not understand why people do certain things, but I don’t have to and neither do you –because being yourself and loving yourself justifies all else.