Support Individuality: Be Who You Are

by William Lewandowski

In today’s society, being who you are is becoming a lot easier. We have gay rights, we have more and more opportunities for other races, and there are events to let people express who they are. Being who you are is important. Stifling one’s self is unhealthy and can prove to be challenging and hurtful to a person’s self-esteem and personality. In society, though it is becoming more acceptable to be who you are, there is still criticism. But that shouldn’t matter.

There are so many positive things when it comes to being you. Being yourself means you don’t have to hide who you are or what you are interested in. Even on our own campus, we can see the vast differences in the students who go here. There are LGBT, there are sports groups, gamers, art people, nerds, bookworms, writers, leaders, musicians, and many more. And when looking at all these groups, there is a key thing to notice: Any one person in any of these groups are there because it helps them show their true self.

Being interested in certain things or being a certain kind of person can really free someone from being closed off from the world. It allows positivity, open-mindedness and happiness. Having complete control of who they want to be makes for a better life. But there is always going to be ridicule towards that. There is always going to be someone pointing a finger or disapproving. But what can we do about it?

In life, there will always be someone who doesn’t quite agree with who someone is or what someone does. There are going to be those names like slut, freak, queer, faggot, geek or ugly. It’s just something society does because being unique and distinct isn’t “normal,” and not fitting into the norm makes society uncomfortable. To settle this discomfort, people use those kinds of names to push people off and make them the “abnormal” part of society. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t need to push differences away in society; we should be embracing them.

We’ve all been called names before. So why do we do it ourselves? We do it, even if we don’t notice. Even by saying something like “Her dress is ugly” or “his clothes don’t match,” we have now judged someone for how they dress. Maybe that’s her favorite dress or that is how he likes to wear his clothes. Keeping open-mindedness in society should be first and foremost. Being open minded keeps society from holding up barriers. If society had a completely open mind, those barriers would fall and people would be more than willing to open up and be who they are.

Nobody would know, but when I was around ten, I used to sew for a pastime. I enjoyed it, but in today’s society, sewing isn’t something men do. I have since stopped sewing, but I remember it was something my two grandmas and I did together when I was growing up. That is a part of me. I also like writing poetry, singing in my car, and helping others. These are some of the things that make me who I am. Doing these sort of things, they allow me to open up, in a healthy way, and let me be who I am.

If we were in such a society, where being who you are is supported and encouraged rather than looked down upon, our word would be a greener place to live in. Bonds would be strengthened between races, between genders, between sexualities and between different cliques. I wish this was the world we lived in, but I know it wouldn’t be easily achieved.

But there is something that can be done just on campus. We, as a student body, need to support and cherish one another; keeping the rest of the campus going with smiles. I’m not saying to hug everyone, you see, but maybe speak up. If you see someone who may not be having the best day, say something to them. Say something like, “Hey, you have a great day,” or “I like your outfit.” You’d be surprised how it makes people feel inside. Even a simple high-five can make someone smile. As a student body, I think it’s more than possible to get the barriers down and open up our minds. As a campus, I think we’re already close to achieving that as it is.

There is so much we can do on our campus to allow every individual to be themselves. There are clubs and organizations for everybody. This is a given, but maybe we could help support them even more. Coming soon is Coming Out Week. Even if you are straight or don’t associate with the LGBTQ community, show some support. We should show support in the fact that so many people have allowed themselves to be who they are.

Another way to support people for who they are is going to an athletic event. Sports may not be everybody’s thing, but to some people it’s the only thing. This makes athletes who they are. We can show support by going to a basketball game, a football game, or a volleyball game.

Go to poetry readings, go to a play or musical, go to a Dragons After Dark event, go to the Dragon Entertainment Group’s movie nights. All these simple things can show support on campus for our fellow Dragons for doing what they love and being who they are. Going would also give you a break from homework and school while doing something fun and supportive. 

Also, coming soon is Dragon Pride week and Homecoming, which are important for supporting people for who they are because we are all Dragons. This also brings up the point that even though we appear different, do different things, and have different personalities, we have commonalities among all of us. Here on campus, we are all Dragons; off campus we are all human. It’s important to recognize this. We all want to be who we are, and on campus we are one student body of Dragons.

We need to allow others to be who they are without having the fear of being judged. Keeping down the barriers of society and having clear open-mindedness is important for achieving this. People are who they are, so calling them rude and hurtful names can ruin their motivation to be their true selves. By being who they are, they aren’t harming anyone else, but society has seen individuality to be “abnormal”. We need to change this one step at a time and start with MSUM, which, by what I can see, is doing a great job already. We have a strong community and family of Dragons. Let people be who they are and stand up and support others and allow them to be who they are as well as being yourself. I am proud to be a Dragon and I know, as a community, we are more than able to tear down barriers of judgement.

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