When we were younger, we were always told to be our own person, to be independent, and to be a leader-not a follower. They’re true words of advice, don’t get me wrong, but as I get older, I’m starting to feel more pressure to follow society’s path that everyone else seems to be on. But what if I don’t want to? Does that make me weird? I thought so a couple weeks ago but now I realize that the real answer is no. It makes me, me and that’s something of which I am very proud.
It’s actually ironic because the older we get, the more we let society dictate our lives, defining what is “normal” or socially acceptable. (Only if we let it.) How are we expected to do what’s best for us and be our own people when society is telling us to do the exact opposite? Think about it. According to our society, after high school you’re supposed to go college. Maybe you’re not the type of person who even wants to because you’re content working at the store you’ve been working at all of high school. How about the fact that those who do go to college are expected to get a corporate job in a big city right after they graduate? What if you wanted to take a couple years off and finish the journey to become a strong, confident adult? This shouldn’t be scrutinized. Society also tells us that when you get older, you’re supposed to get married and have a family. If you didn’t want to, are you made to feel like an outcast? Most people would look at you that way, but in my book, you actually should applaud yourself for having strength and confidence to go against what everyone else or society says.
I started thinking about this recently due to a major decision I made, separating me from the norm, from the socially “popular” thing to do. Most students, especially at the University of Maryland and other large universities, go abroad during their junior year. Abroad is an amazing experience and mostly everyone takes up the opportunity to live in Europe, Israel, Australia, or South America for a semester. However, if you’re like me and you’re not one of those people taking up an experience of a lifetime, you’re left at school for a semester with just a couple other people who are in the same boat as you. Since there are only a few people staying back, you feel like an outcast because majority of the people are doing what you are not.
Why was I made to feel like this was a bad thing? I shouldn’t have. I personally felt like such a loser because I wasn’t following what college society says I should. It took some inner strength, confidence, and some inspiring advice from friends to realize that I, along with my other friends staying back, am doing what’s best for me and that isn’t anything I should feel bad about. Just because I have anxiety about all things traveling, more specifically flying, doesn’t mean I should think anything less of myself.
Being who you truly are shows independence and confidence. Regardless of whether it’s similar or different to what everyone else is doing, you should never feel negative about doing it. You should always praise yourself for following your gut and being true blue to yourself, even more so if what you’re doing is different from anyone else. Only you can dictate what’s best for you, and in the end, the people who are there for you and support you are the one’s worth sharing it with.
From this experience, I have embraced the phrase “you do you.” I’m going to do me, especially next semester, just like all of my friends are going to do them while they’re abroad. Ignore any negativity with confidence. You do you, honey because no one else can you like you can.
We welcome Stefanie Sabar, one of our newest contributing writers. Stefanie is a student at University of Maryland.