A Reflection on Staying True to Myself in High School amidst a Society with Herd Mentality

One of the many demands society has been making recently is to please everyone, which causes everyone to want to be pleased. Naturally, those who have to do the pleasing at the bottom of society’s food chain have more pressure placed on their shoulders. Furthermore, this pressure to please society has led many to thinking that if he pleases others, he will find success in life. My father, however, taught me the opposite approach. Whenever I found myself attempting to fit in by pleasing others, my father always told me, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

A few years ago, I didn’t have many close friends in high school, yet, contrary to my father’s constant and consistent advice, I tried again and again to fit in by pretending to have interest in their interests. For example, many of my peers watched television almost religiously during any free time away from school, while I, on the other hand, did not. Furthermore, since I am a girl, the pressure to also be physically attractive remained steadily increasing as I grew older. I concluded that I needed whatever it would take in other to please other girls of my age. I broached the topics with my parents many times. First, I asked them if I could get my ears pierced, and on another occasion, I asked for make-up supplies.

On yet another, I wanted a cellular telephone because my peers all had one. Additionally, I asked if the rule banning television could be abolished in order that I’d at least participate in my peers’ conversations. Each time, however, they told me “No.” And, of course, the reasons were typical responses from parents: “That’s too expensive!” or “You don’t need it,” and “You will have to pay for it and take care of it yourself,” as well as the occasional explanation of physical and mental health hazards. Nevertheless, whenever I asked Dad, he always gave me a long lecture. But he didn’t tell me why I didn’t need things to please everyone.

Instead, he told me that he did not want me to try to please everyone: he wanted me to be, simply, me. He didn’t want me to become like everyone else, but unique, special, and just who I truly wanted to be. Furthermore, he explained the “herd mentality” of my peers, including the peer pressure that came with the mentality. But at the end he always said, “You have to lead, follow, or get out of the way. If you choose to lead, sometimes you will lead with no one to follow.”

Eventually his words sank into me after a plethora of lectures. Yes, I still felt pressure to please, but the more I acted myself, the more others became attracted to me. Before more time had passed, I had many friends and even a rising popularity amongst people I didn’t even know. Thus, I found failure in trying to please others, but success in ignoring the pressure and acting my true self. Furthermore, I finally realized that I couldn’t please everyone, but staying true to myself rather than being fake felt effortless in pleasing others.

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