There is definitely no doubt that the world is evolving and moving forward. There is a new found understanding of the differences of human beings and we have grown closer in many aspects of life: equality, feminism, and respect to name a few.
Coming from a family with strong Christian views, I have been conditioned in their habits of charity and humility. My family follow the words of the Lord as if he is there guiding them through life’s obstacles as a shining light of determination and prosperity. But it wasn’t until a few years ago did I realize that these people who have the nobelist of views are the people who are slowing pulling me down as well as many other members of our society.
So what is it that shapes a good person? Following the Bible? Going to church every Sunday at 8:00 am? Or is there more?
Growing up I had the strongest urge to stand out and to become something greater and more powerful than the average person living in the Annapolis area. I looked at people who were different and saw these them as the ones who would become something great one day, the people who would have others falling at their feet wishing they would amount to something semi close to them. The “weird” one are the ones who I knew would be known. I wanted to be known.
Elementary school flowed as easily as it would for any kid. I had a huge number of friends, I enjoyed school, and I had the desire to be a doctor who would marry a prince and would become a princess (like I said, normal kid). Middle school was a different story however. I never realized how strange I really was until a boy I had a crush on pointed out that my hair looked like a rats nest, my legs were abnormally big for my slender body, my voice sounded more like a sixty year old man’s voice than a prepubescent female, my laugh was loud and annoying, and my teeth were by far the crookedest things on the face of this planet. Needless to say, I didn’t take that criticism easily. Instead of embracing my strangeness and my quirks that made me unique, I began to hide behind those “flaws” to escape the reality that I may be looked at as different.
HIgh school was just about the worst years of my life as I became trapped within myself and became mentally incapable of moving forward. My outlook on life completely shifted within these four years. I came in as a spunky freshman, hoping that if I looked the part, straightened my hair, wore cute pink makeup, and wore uggs I could actually make friends… but that didn’t happen.
Despite my best efforts I still remained friendless and my grades began to slip as I couldn’t move past the desire to have a friendship with the popular kids at school and have a raging high school romance with the boy of my dreams who just so happened to be completely unaware of my existence (so cliche, I know).
I didn’t know what it was that prevented me from forming any kind of worthwhile relationship. I addressed my issues to my parents but they were of no help since the only interactions they enjoyed was with their jobs and then the tv screen on their down time. I was at a crossroad where I could turn one way and continue being the invisible girl with no friends or I could turn the other way and completely reinvent myself and be whomever I want. I chose the second.
I became the weird looking girl who was a cross between emo or goth and just so happened to take ballet classes and sometimes enjoyed listening to classical music next to heavy metal. I embraced my weirdness and gave all the kids at school sometime to talk about. I wasn’t going to let their judgments define me without my consent. So instead, I defined myself and they had no choice but to accept it.
Now I’m in college, and although my outside style has changed, my insides remain the same. I don’t believe that the way someone looks or acts is what defines them. It does not matter if you go to church every Sunday, if you speak poorly of people because they are different, you are not a noble person worthy of any kind of praise.
There are many aspects of my life where the questions still go unanswered: who exactly am I? Why do I have these views? Why do I have to be so different from my family?
One day I hope to be able to answer these questions, but for right now I’m the strange daughter, niece, cousin, and grandchild with tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, a weird personality, outrageously strange and confusing fashion style. I’m the talk of our family gatherings where the question is “Rachel, where exactly are you headed in life?” “Are you aware that with tattoos you can be turned away from a job?” “What are you wearing?” and my favorite “Do you wanna come stay at our house for a month? We’ll straighten you out.”
I can’t wait for the day where all the people who have ever doubted me because I was “weird,” didn’t like my personality, thought I was over ambitious, dumb, anti-social, and/or hard to understand, will look at me and think “damn, she really proved us wrong.” And when that day happens, I’ll be sure to remember them and thank them for the hell they put me through without even realizing it, and as a reward they can sulk in my achievements.