One of the hardest things about being a teenager is the pressure to fit in. To pretend to be someone you’re not. I came to this realization when I reached sixth grade, watching all of my former friends separate into cliques and obsess over makeup, boys, and drama. They became someone they weren’t and only because it seemed like the thing to do since they were no longer considered a little kid anymore. It was also at this time when I came to the realization that I wasn’t like the rest of them. After a while, I started to not feel right about this. I mean, shouldn’t I have been like the rest of the girls? There had to have been something wrong with me. I only had a couple of real friends. The other girls I hung out with at school said they were my friends, but I knew it was only because of my popular teenage sister. Some of her friend’s little siblings were in my grade and they wanted me to be part of their clique. But I never felt accepted by them—instead, I felt as if they tolerated me, secretly wishing I was different. More like them. My self-esteem became very low. Especially since there were some people who constantly tried to make me into someone I wasn’t reminding me that I was different—or, in their words, “weird”. They tried making me feel bad for not being like the rest of the girls my age. Because of this, I started to become so self-conscious, so concerned about what people thought about me and ashamed of who I was. I remember my mom would always tell me that God made me different from the rest of the girls for a reason. Over the years, I’ve realized just how true she was. This quote by Taylor Swift basically says it all:
“If you’re lucky enough to be different from everyone else, don’t change.”
Don’t sacrifice who you are just to fit in with the rest of them. Yes, it may be hard going to school every day with hardily anyone to talk to. Believe me, I’ve felt that way many times. In sixth grade, I was finally able to convince my mom to homeschool me the last three months of the school year. I couldn’t handle just three more months of it. Trust me, being ignored by people because you’re “different” hurts just as bad as being made fun of. If you have yet to watch Jillian Jensen’s audition for The X Factor that’s recently gone viral, I recommend that you do by clicking here. She’s a 19-year-old who was bullied all throughout middle and high school, yet she never changed who she was. On the show, she told us: “I was never afraid to be myself. They always just tried to bring me down because I am… the way I am.”
Demi Lovato—one of the judges who is also a victim of being bullied—told Jillian: “Look, we’re both up here. The bullies that bullied us, they’re at home watching us on TV.”
If you’re different from the rest of them, it’s because you were called to do something extra-ordinary. God has a unique purpose for you. It’d be such a waste to throw it all away just so you can fit in with the other girls.
There’s an episode on One Tree Hill that’s very powerful, probably one of my favorite television episodes ever. In the episode, a guy started a school shooting and was holding hostage some of his classmates in a classroom. He was going on to them about how hard school has always been for him, and all because people bullied him or treated him as if he were invisible. One of the girls told him: “700 days, high school. Out of 20 or 30 thousand. Can’t you see past that? It’s only 700 days.”
High school isn’t going to last forever. In fact, it goes by pretty fast. Is it really worth sacrificing who you are just for momentary acceptance?
As children of God, we’re called to be set apart. We’re not supposed to conform to the culture around us.
I’m hoping that, through my column, you will be encouraged to stay true to who God has made you to be and do the things he has called you to do. I’m hoping you will realize just how important your youth is and be challenged to grow in your relationship with God. To strive to please Him above anyone else. And to be different from the rest of them.
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” ~Romans 12:2
photo credit: Mean Girls (2004)
Tessa Hall is a 19-year-old coffeeholic and author of Purple Moon. She is also the editor over the faith department for Temperance Magazine, as well as a contributing writer for Imagine Mag, More To Be, & Real Teen Faith. She loves acting, music, Starbucks, and her imperial Shih Tzu—who is named Brewer after a character in her book, as well as her love for coffee.