What Color Are You Wearing Today?
In my sophomore year of high school, one of my classmates passed away in a tragic car accident. On the day after the accident, his friends planned for everyone to wear white, in memory of him.
Most of us did, and it really showed our unity: our school came together as a family. However, those who didn’t wear white stood out – some were even being ostracized for not caring enough to wear a color. But just simply wearing a color didn’t mean that we cared. We may have felt pressured to, because “everyone” was doing it. Wearing, or not wearing, something isn’t an accurate representation of how people felt about the classmate, nor should they have been cast out for it.
In an ideal society, everyone would be accepting. However, in reality, society is judgmental. We often subside to pressure because of our “desire for acceptance”, as well as “lack of self-confidence” (All Psychology Careers). But one major factor is the people we surround ourselves with. If we have friends who understand us and support us, we won’t feel the need to change ourselves. In Self Reliance, Emerson asserts that we can stay true to ourselves, if we are self-reliant and don’t try to imitate others, for “imitation is suicide”.
Believe in yourself, and stand up. If you have a strong will and true friends, society’s pressure won’t apply to you. On the other hand, some people emphasize our weak nature. Collectivists think that, to be individuals mean each focus on our own lives, instead of the rest of the world, which “break[s] down any unity we have, so individualism must be kept to a minimum” (Klein). Others feel that human nature can’t be helped.
In The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, Twain portrays that he does supports individualism, but recognizes our tendency to conform. When someone wanted to burn Sherburn, everyone else passively and blindly followed him. We are naturally cowards, and that cowardliness is especially shown when we come together as a whole; we feel pressured to follow others, so that we don’t stand out. He also warns us that even if we are strong enough to refuse conformity, there could be negative consequences. Most of us are aware of those possible consequences, so we take the safer route; we don’t even try to be ourselves, and just let people tell us what to do. We are aware of our audience, and adjust ourselves to behave accordingly to what will benefit us the most.
This complicated world reveals our weakness and phoniness. It is in our nature to want to fit in with society, but it doesn’t mean that we have to lose ourselves in the process. When it comes down to it, “pressure is an excuse for weak people” who are not brave enough to be themselves, whether the pressure is positive or negative. No matter what, “the fact is that you have a choice, and that choice can be to say no” (Toland). We don’t have to do anything that would go against our beliefs and personality. Even if you want to make other people happy, you should never have to change yourself.
Don’t be afraid of the possible consequences, because your real friends will accept you exactly the way you are. And if they don’t, then they’re not your true friends, nor do they deserve to be. In addition, there can be worse results to following others. If they make bad choices, like doing drugs or underage drinking, then you’re also stuck with the consequences because you listened to them, even though you weren’t actually the one to make the decisions. As long as we’re doing what we, as individuals, believe in, then we can remain ourselves in a community. Once our school stopped wearing the same colors in memory of our peer, we realized that we were getting too caught up in the little things and saw what was truly important.
It wasn’t what we wore that really mattered, but it was what we did to comfort each other that showed our unity. Because even though we all looked different on the outside, our hearts and spirits were still connected, and that made us strong. There will always be people who don’t accept you, or don’t understand you. But if we have a strong will, make our own decisions, and surround ourselves with real friends, then we can stay true to ourselves, while still being a part of our community.