The funny thing about life is that people spend half their lives trying to fit in and the other half trying to stand out. I mean, how could you spend half of your life trying to be like everyone else only to end up spending the rest of your life trying to be different? It’s just one of the mysteries of life I am determined to figure out.
Off the top of my head, it may have a lot to do with how we were raised. A lot of external factors like parents, society, school, and the like dictated to us exactly how we should be. In school, we were all required to look and act the same way. We were required to wear uniforms. We weren’t allowed to color our hair. We weren’t even allowed to wear jewelry. Basically, everything that indicates that you have a personality was simply not allowed. Growing up with all these rules and regulations turned us into these unwitting wallflowers.
There’s also the fear factor. There’s nothing like the fear of being ridiculed to put people in line. Society is most responsible for this. If you act exactly like how society dictates then you’ll be fine but if you don’t then the ones who do will take it upon themselves to rip you apart until you become exactly like them. Pawns of society who just go with what is accepted as normal without realizing how much of themselves they have given up to become just like everyone else.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been different. I never fit in no matter how hard I tried and even when I didn’t do anything I was treated as an outcast. The fact of the matter is, people can be cruel and it’s up to us on how to take in that cruelty.
Years ago, I was bullied. Being bullied was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through and I don’t want to experience it ever again. I went through psychological and sometimes physical abuse. People would tease me, call me names, make fun of me, fight with me, and hit me. Being bullied is a terrifying experience so, of course, I did nothing about it. I couldn’t even tell other people about it. I just kept it to myself, and it all destroyed me. This experience made me hate myself. Because I was different, people didn’t even bother to get to know me and understand who I am. All they saw was this weird girl who was so different from them so they just decided to treat me differently.
It took a while but I finally figured out a way to deal with all my bullies. I just decided to ignore them because I realized that everything they said is more of a reflection of how they really see themselves and not a reflection of who I am. If I allowed these bullies to affect me, then I was giving them power over myself, and that’s the last thing I wanted. What people do or say can only affect you if you let it. I made the decision to stop listening to my bullies and just focus on loving myself. When I finally decided to embrace my weirdness, that’s when everything just started working out.
Embrace the weirdness that’s inside of you. Be proud that you are different and not just like everybody else. Love every single thing about yourself—the good, the bad, and everything in between. Don’t listen to the unwarranted opinions of people who don’t matter because, in the end, you’re going to end up on top and everyone else will be looking up at you—especially your bullies. Don’t let other people tell you who you are; you tell them.
Photography by Gerard Aquino