Individuality

By: Claire Tighe

In grade school it was a crime to copy someone else’s idea, especially if working on an art project.

Colors or images that resembled another student’s work would result in the creation of a “copycat,” and at that time in life nothing was worse, except maybe being a “tattletale.”

In college it seems the opposite. We aim to be copycats, acting in a socially acceptable manner. We hope that our peers will approve of us, so we create a culture of assimilation in which certain behaviors are normal and acting abnormally is is unacceptable.

Take for example, wearing leggings as pants. I see other students wearing leggings as pants, deduce this fashion display as highly acceptable upon observing its prevalence on campus, and in turn, wear my own leggings as pants, with hopes of assimilating seamlessly into Dickinson culture.

If I act like everyone else, no one will notice me. Wait! If I act like everyone else, no one will notice me!

What fun is that?

Ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s time to regress back to what we knew so well in grade school: there is nothing worse than being a copycat.

Boys and girls, recognize others’ individuality and deny no part of your own. Aren’t the young people of the United States known for their unique culture of the individual, not the collective? Stop trying to act like everyone else, because you, yourself, are a most likely a pretty interesting and probably somewhat awesome person.

I once heard a male friend of mine claim that there is nothing more attractive about a woman than having confidence about her individual identity. Maybe if we didn’t care about looking stupid for wearing a blanket while studying in Rector, or going barefoot in the library, or wearing clothes that don’t match, we might not be so concerned with portraying ourselves in certain ways on Facebook or sending that cutie the right text message at the right time of day.

We might not be so focused on posting “anonymous” virtual catcalls on LikeALittle.com.

Haven’t you ever spotted someone singing while walking down the street and been inspired to shamelessly express yourself more often? Or thought that kid riding the scooter was actually kinda cute, even if Razor Scooters are so 2000? I always giggle when someone cracks up at their own jokes, knowing it’s a faux pas I myself am usually guilty of.

Maybe appreciating the beauty in our individualities will help us see the human in each other. Instead of creating a culture wherein “belonging” is made necessary through normalized behavior we can understand that being ourselves contributes to a healthy community: one based on appreciation and acceptance.

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