Our character, clothing, mannerisms and appearance all add to our uniqueness, but society doesn’t see our unique qualities as such. People see categories. These categories begin to emerge when school starts but really take hold in our middle and high school years when cliques begin to form. I remember in middle school I was seen as emo because I wore all black and loved finger-less gloves, but that wasn’t who I was. I just happened to love the way black looked on me and the gloves were just a style trend I ended up enjoying. But, because of how people viewed me I thought maybe I was emo. I had no reason to believe it. I was a happy-go-lucky kind of person and nowhere near depressed. So I decided to change my style and be more colorful, which I was fine with; I liked colors as well.
When I got into my high school years, some of my classmates thought I had a metal disease because of my positive outlook on life and my surroundings. I was categorized again. After it was made clear that I wasn’t mentally ill, then they tried to befriend me. Essentialism of this kind that we have already been talking about has been presented in even Ancient Egypt and the middle ages. This is something that we have had a constant issue with and still rules our lives today but in a more personal and clique-type setting.
Categorization in the middle ages was presented and accepted as a social class. These social classes decided one's jobs and responsibilities but denied anyone any way of moving up in the world. If someone was born a peasant they stayed a peasant. Only through marriage of high class blood was there any possibility for them to have a greater status. Royalty usually stayed within a royal line. In modern society we have our own form of social class but everyone has the possibility to become successful in life. Therefore, these categories in our society are harsher because of how we present them, implement them and accept them. We do not have to follow the categorizations forced on us. We can be whoever we want as long as we stick with it and understand that our failures are learning tools.
I am not the only person that society has done this to. Everyone has been put into a category at least once and in order to “fit in” we try to belong to the category that was chosen for us. That is not being who you are and can cause an existential crisis and has to so many millennials, I believe. We have brainwashed ourselves to think that first appearances are everything and that may be true in some cases, but it should not be for young people. Anyone in their first or second year of high school and below should not have to be put into a category based on their very first appearance. At those ages we do not know how to present ourselves well and still have so much growth to do.
It makes it hard to figure out who we are when society leaves us no wiggle room to investigate ourselves. We know not what we do or who we are at such a young age. While in high school and below we should leave everyone’s expectations out. Mess up on a few first impressions but keep practicing. Do not categorize yourself as something you may not be in a year or five years. Leave yourself wiggle room to discover who you really are before you are an adult. Sometimes, even as an adult, there might be a need to reconnect and rediscover who you are again.
As young people, we are still developing our communication skills and we are usually our shyest during these times. Practicing your communication skills might even help you find out what type of person you are and what type of career you might want in the future.
When we find a hobby that we really truly enjoy, society - including ourselves - tend to say that we are, for example, a sneaker-head because we love buying and collecting sneakers or we are a skater boy/girl because we really truly enjoy skateboarding but that does not define us. There are certain characteristic that we associate with people in their chosen group but that does not define who they truly are. A person who enjoys skateboarding is not a hooligan; someone who wears all black and long-sleeved clothes may not cut themselves or be depressed; people who are strong in their academics are not nerds.
We are not these categories. We are who we make ourselves and we should fight to be who we want to be.
So much pressure is put on us as young people but that does not mean we need more pressure on trying to squeeze into a category. Step outside the box and discover who you really are.