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Student blog: What does being who you are mean anyway?

Author: Lillian of Year 11

09 Sep 2016

I want to express one way to be a game changer: to be who you are and confident in that. In our society, weird and different have a negative stigma. People are reluctant to accept change or variation. But without difference, how can we create new things besides the norm? How can we advance further if we are all conditioned to follow what ‘Simon says?’ 

Many of you are probably wondering what being who you are even means. You have probably heard it so many times. After a trusty Google search, I discovered it is: who we really are when we let go of all of the stories, labels, and judgments that we have placed upon ourselves. It is who we naturally are, without the masks. Social media, friends and other influences can prompt us to place expecations and judgements on ourselves. 

In Australia, differences are slowly becoming more accepted in terms of sexuality, gender, race or faith. But it still takes strength and courage to change the game and accept who you are confidentially. And although our identity is a kinetic concept – throughout our life our passions, likes and beliefs change with experience and maturity – it is important to recognise and be confident with what your likes and dislikes are and what you believe in. It’s important not to be shackled down by the beliefs of the majority.

I grappled with who I was throughout Middle School, but learned to express my opinion. Year 7 was a difficult time. I moved to a new school, left home to board at the age of 11, and – having my parents divorce and experiencing death for the first time – I was left with a huge dent in my self confidence. 

As the year progressed I struggled to make friends. This, teamed with my already low self confidence made me feel as though I was weird. I remember being on the bus in Year 7 when all the girls were talking about the hype at the time, One Direction. I listened as they discussed Harry’s 'boyish curls' and green 'orbs' not feeling I could relate. 

I didn’t like One Direction’s music. I thought they weren’t more than just a phase. But when one girl asked my opinion on them, I remember everyone’s eyes looking directly at me and in that moment I remember changing my stance and agreeing with the group, stating I liked Liam the best. 

You could argue this was a small and petty topic, but the significance of the conversation still reverberates within me four years later. It was the first time I wasn’t true to myself or others. I only said I liked One Direction because I was afraid to be different, to not fit the shoe of a ‘normal’ teen girl. 

This small example exemplifies the pressure in society to conform. That an opinion, which makes up a small part of who I am, was difficult to express to this day, makes me feel ashamed. After expressing many small opinions in a similar way through Middle School, I became tired of feigning interest in something I really didn’t like, and became more and more unhappy because I wasn’t myself. So I decided to stop and just be who I am. I have lost no friends today in doing so and have only made myself happier and more confident.

Be the game changer by being who you are, and not trying to fit into the shoe that is considered ‘normal’ as you can’t walk very far in a shoe that doesn’t fit. Instead wear the shoe that fits your foot so you can walk.