Fitting in not worth giving up individuality


by Amy Hubner

You fit in somewhere.

Or at least, everyone else thinks you do.

Whether people think of you as a nerd, a jock, stuck-up, fake, brown-noser, slacker, perfectionist, slob, neat-freak, or – my favorite – a booger head, they are making this assumption based on some type of preconceived notion of who you are.

Everyone who is actually taking the five minutes out of their day to read this article either: A) already knows me and has made their own judgments of who I am, or B) noticed my picture with the huge cheesy smile and made up some type of conclusion about who I am, which places me into a stereotype.

Many of us chose Simpson College because we didn’t want to become a number in the crowd. But instead we all became a member of a group, whether we wanted in or not.

Simpson isn’t necessarily to blame for this, however, the small-school atmosphere here allows us all to know of each other, but not really “know” each other.

Take me, for example.

I play soccer, which places me into the “jock” category.

I used the phrase “booger head” in this column: this makes me a “big dork.”

I write for the Simpsonian, which I believe classifies me as “resourceful.”

But none of these words define who I really am. My morals, goals, hopes and dreams: these are what should define me, not who I was sitting by at Pfeiffer the other day.

There is more than what just meets the eye. The problem is so many of us don’t make the time or the effort.

We live in a society where people form superficial opinions about who we are in the first 30 seconds. It’s the norm for people of this country to stick to their first impressions, even if they are wrong, and in the small town of Indianola, Iowa, it is no different.

Physical attractiveness places so much importance in how our world works. In a country where growing problems of obesity and anorexia exist, there is little room for socially accepted “normal” people.

You are either too thin, too fat, too weak, too muscular, too short, too tall, too curvy, too ugly, or even one of the few people who have been called too perfect.

I once was told I was petite and thick in the same sentence.

Looks like I got two negatives, but in this case two negatives don’t make a positive.

“You’re never going to be good enough” is the mentality pounded into your head every day. So the world wants you to accept your role as not good enough and live with it.

But what is wrong with me just being me? Why can’t I be in a category by itself? I want to be known as an individual, but I guess that would place me in the group with all the other outcasts who just want to be “individuals.”

Luckily, if people set their minds to it, they can change their “classification” in the eyes of others. So if a person is truly unhappy with the way he or she is perceived, it can be changed.

However, none of the groups I’ve discussed deal with race, class, or gender.

These stereotypes are more difficult to escape from. You or I can’t change the world in one day, but baby steps are still progress and although stereotypes will never go away, nothing will ever change if no one tries to make them change.

So I leave you all with this challenge: Find out who you are and then help others get to know you. No one will accept you until you can first accept yourself.

This is a part of your “Simpson Experience.” Finding yourself, that is. Learn the differences between yourself and others by accepting these differences.

Also, try to find out who the people around you really are. Before you are quick to judge the next person who walks past you, consider taking the time to actually get to know them.

What is their name?

Where are they from?

What are their favorite flavors of ice cream?

Be creative.

Show everyone you are more than that person who wears sweats to class every day or that person who always is on his or her phone.

Be proud of yourself.

Maybe in the process of doing so, you will actually change everyone’s view of who you really are.