Being Different | Teen Ink

Being Different MAG

By Anonymous

     Ask teenagers what their views are on fitting in with the crowd. Many will reply that they want to fit in, be like the popular kids, or go with the flow. The majority of teens who reply that they want to stand out still base many of their actions on fitting in with others. Ask people why they hang out where they do. Common responses are that friends hang out there, or that it is a popular place. Why do people wear what they wear? Typical replies are that the clothes are in style, or that the popular kids wear them. Many of the actions of teenagers are driven by a desire to fit in.

I am one of the relatively few teenagers who really wants to be unique. Moreover, I never use any of these reasons. Why do I want to be unique? I think deep down, the reason is based on human nature. Something about feeling useful, needed, and purposeful is rewarding to me, and probably to others too. If I am unique, then I can fill some niche better than any other person. If I am just like everyone else, then any niche I fill could probably be filled just as well by someone else, and so I would cease to be useful and needed.

I usually wear shirts that are in some way related to math or science. Why? It increases the likelihood that someone who shares my interests - math, science, computers, and learning - will talk to me, presenting the opportunity for learning, my favorite activity.

Historically, I have never wanted to fit in. One example occurred when I was in third grade. I was ready to go to school with my bulky sweatshirt tucked into my elastic sweat pants. Seeing how I was dressed, my mom said, “Why don’t you wear your sweatshirt out?” I replied, “No, it’s okay.” She tried again, “Well, it’s really designed to be worn out.” I replied, “I like it better in. It’s more comfortable.” My mom kept trying, “Well, it looks kind of silly, and you don’t want kids to tease you.” I countered, “My true friends won’t tease me about how I dress, and anyone who teases me isn’t a true friend, just a bully, so why should I care what he thinks?” My mom gave up and instead exclaimed, “You’re absolutely right! But, I like seeing it out, so do me a favor and wear it out,” as she untucked it.

Even then, I changed my appearance only to satisfy my mom, not to be accepted. I was, and still am, almost impervious to peer pressure. Peer pressure is driven by and drives a desire to fit in. The people who do the pressuring are attempting to fit in by changing the crowd to make others more like themselves, while those who give in to peer pressure are trying to fit in by changing themselves to be more like the crowd.

Contrary to what some would say, I think being different is good. Anyone who says otherwise is focusing on the wrong aspects of being different. Bullies focus on the negative aspects of how others are different. People who succumb to peer pressure focus on how they are different in negative ways from what is considered “normal.” I enjoy being different because I focus on the positive aspects of how I am different, and engage in pursuits that allow me to feel good about myself.

My advice to anyone who is being bullied is to find something about being different that is helpful. Bullies most likely will stop when teasing is no longer enjoyable. Because bullying is meant to elicit a response, when that person stops being affected by the bullying, it no longer accomplishes its goal. Since bullies are used to teasing people, it is possible that they can tell if a person is affected by the bullying by subtle changes in appearance, just like wild predators can “sense” fear in their prey. Thus, it might not be enough to simply pretend that the bullying does not matter. However, if the person being bullied is truly unaffected, it won’t elicit any response other than mild annoyance.

I am, as my mom says, “bully-proof” because I am logical. I see teasing for what it is, and that makes it illogical to anyone other than the bully. An illogical statement is obviously untrue and cannot evoke an emotional response. To see the lack of logic behind their statements (which really only amount to “being like me is better than being like you”), I only have to enjoy being myself. My advice for achieving this is to find an activity you love and become the best you can be at it.

By viewing bullying in a logical way, feeling comfortable being yourself, and looking for the positive aspects of being different, it is possible to overcome bullying, as well as many other obstacles.

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This article has 15 comments.

knald-en-ged said...
on Nov. 10 2020 at 11:11 am
knald-en-ged, København, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
@Carsten4151 Hej med dig

boobyyyyyyyy said...
on Feb. 4 2020 at 2:32 am
boobyyyyyyyy, New York, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
OMG! look at her...plastic

Carsten4151 said...
on Feb. 4 2020 at 2:23 am
Carsten4151, Copenhagen, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Hej jeg hedder Carsten

gaaayyyy said...
on Aug. 27 2018 at 3:30 am
gaaayyyy, Ribe, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

While i agree with the general view of this article, there are some points i didnt like. I don't think that we should all strive to be unique, I think that we should just strive to do what we wish to do, REGARDLESS of ANYTHING! too many times, ive seen people who, in their effort to be "special" or "unique," disadvantage themselves in order to stand out. My fellow nerd friends will criticize me because i buy clothing from popular stores, or because i like to read sappy ..

on Oct. 9 2017 at 3:29 pm
crayonmuncher, London, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Ouch" Abraham Lincoln just after being shot

@Abigail_W you're going to break your arm jerking yourself off like that.

on Mar. 16 2017 at 9:09 am
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

ddiicckk said...
on Aug. 26 2015 at 3:08 am
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

BBH_Shady said...
on Mar. 28 2014 at 8:43 am
i really like the essay it very true and i agree with you.

on Dec. 31 2012 at 6:06 pm
SFeathery BRONZE, Ridgefield, Connecticut
4 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The world is quiet here" -V.F.D.
"All is number" -Pythagoras

While i agree with the general view of this article, there are some points i didnt like. I don't think that we should all strive to be unique, I think that we should just strive to do what we wish to do, REGARDLESS of ANYTHING! too many times, ive seen people who, in their effort to be "special" or "unique," disadvantage themselves in order to stand out. My fellow nerd friends will criticize me because i buy clothing from popular stores, or because i like to read sappy teen novels or because i associate with "popular" people. my "popular" friends will criticize me for hanging out with "nerds," in turn. Truth to be told, i AM different (like, even more than the usual). I DON'T fit in. I'm nerdy, I rant continuously about pythagoras and hexaflexagons and Vi Hart, but that doesnt mean i dont like shopping or wearing clothes that may or may not (but why care?) be similar with the "in" crowd. And yes, i am teased for it C.C. but whatever- i dont need to focus on the "different" parts of me anymore than the "same" parts, WHETHER OR NOT positively OR negatively. I AM unique. but do i want to be unique? not neccesarily. ack. that was very long and convoluted and if you got to the bottom of it, i genuinely appreciate it. maybe i should just write an article about it....

Furry Feline said...
on Mar. 14 2012 at 11:44 am
Being Different is a good thing, you are made special, no one made to be like you. 

Michie.xo said...
on Apr. 25 2011 at 11:35 pm
Michie.xo, New York, New York
0 articles 1 photo 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"As we grow up we learn that even the person that wasn't supposed to ever let you down
probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it gets
harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken.
You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did. You'll cry
because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love, so take many
pictures, laugh too much and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds
you spend upset is one minute of happiness you'll never get back."

At some point I always second guessed myself and I didn't feel comftarble in my own skin.I was insecure.But I realized that this is me,this is who I am.The way I dress,the way i look,the type of music i listen too and the way i talk.It all defines me.After trying so hard to fit in-and horribily failing at it.I started not to care anymore.It was like trying to put a shoe on that didn't fit.It just wan't me.So I cut the act and just wanted to be me.And eventually I found people that were a lot like me-It was hard to believe at first but I found people that accepted me for who i was and those people are my friends that i still have till this day :)

on Jun. 13 2009 at 3:44 pm
Dandelion PLATINUM, Franklin, Massachusetts
20 articles 8 photos 173 comments
Look at me. While all of my friends are wearing Aeropostale sweatshirts and Etnies sneakers, here I am, wearing jeans that I ripped myself, a Rolling Stones T-shirt, a bandana wrapped around my head, and blue Converse high-tops with mismatching knee-high socks sticking out of them.

I could decide to simply fit in when the most picked on boy in the grade is getting picked on. Instead, I do what my instinct tells me to, and say to his picker-onner, "You know what? Just shut up. Leave him alone."

And when the girl says, "Go away! Abigail!" I stand there defiantly.

Your essay captured everything that I have thought in the past twelve years of my life. (I'm twelve.)

on Dec. 30 2008 at 10:45 pm
That is awesome!!! I have always been frustrated by how you have to wear the right clothes and act the right way, or else people will tease you. But it doesn't actually matter, as you pointed out.I also try to be different and wear what I want to and what I feel good in. What's the point of wearing something you don't like?

striker0305 said...
on Aug. 25 2008 at 10:56 pm
But you have to also some people make up their own rules and their own clothes and dress how they please and some people want to be like that and copy so sometimes that becomes the in crowd. Many people have the same interest and a lot of people want to be with the because they are cool. It is all about personality.