This I believe … What do you believe in?

By on December 4, 2010

I believe that you should be who you want to be, not what others want to see
by Courtney Kowalski, Senior, Kaneland Krier
Kaneland—To say that people give in to the way society sees them would be an understatement. People not only give in, but they completely conform to whatever they’re told they should be. It’s as if there’s an unwritten rule floating around in people’s minds: “I must portray the image of what these people want to see.”

But tell me, who made up this rule? Why do they get to decide who we should and shouldn’t be?

I used to waste my time trying to morph into the latest version of the “in-crowd,” and fitting in may seem like what the world revolves around, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anybody else in the world thinks of you, as long as you’re happy with yourself.

When I was 6 years old, my family and I moved from Kansas to small-town Elburn. I started in the first grade, mid-year, and didn’t think I had any trouble fitting in. Elementary school flew by, and soon enough I was in sixth grade. Sixth through eighth grade were, hands down, the hardest years of my life. Everyone seemed to have friends who they had known since kindergarten or elementary school. I, however, didn’t have that luxury. It was that moment when I started thinking I didn’t fit in or belong anywhere.

For those three years in middle school, I tried so desperately to fit in to someone’s—anyone’s—group. I had an idea in my head of what I thought would make me friends, but in reality, it only made me come across as fake and, most importantly, as who I thought everybody else wanted me to be.

By seventh grade I was so desperate to have friends that I did whatever I was told to do by my peers. Eventually, my grades dropped, my relationship with my family slipped through my fingers and I let people into my life who I should have been kept out with an electric fence—all because I thought I didn’t belong anywhere.

I forced myself to conform to what they wanted me to be, and in the meantime, who I actually was slipped right through the cracks.

By eighth grade I managed to bring myself out of that rut for a while, but I was still lacking the companionship I’d been searching so desperately to find. And then high school came along. High school changed me—for the worse and for the better. It’s true what everyone tells you: the first year of high school is the worst.

People are judgmental, cruel, and just plain mean. So naturally, at that point in time, I thought it was my job to be all of those things so I could fit in somewhere—anywhere. Well, I was wrong again.

When sophomore year was in the works, I was back to having nobody. It stayed that way for quite some time until around summer of junior year.

That was the year my life turned back around. That was the year I finally decided it was okay to let people in, and it was okay to be myself around people other than my family. That was the year I decided to make decisions for me, and not anybody else. That year, I became friends with the most amazing people I’ve ever met, and I know that from this point on, it can only get better.