well behaved (people) never make history
i declare that the investment of being socially accepted has little or no return; in other words the value of fitting in makes no logical sense in the course of time.
yet we persist to no avail.
i remember the two events that led to my eventual departure from the ‘popular crowd’ to the separation of their church and my state.
i was in 8th grade, dennison middle school, mrs. h’s class. her history classes were rather boring, and being that i was of the hyperactive mentality i was not doing so well.
because i came from (at that time) a lower socioeconomic status, where money was reserved for more important staples like milk, bread, and cheerios. needless to say my fashion sense suffered, and i felt inadequate next to the children of the upper class. one night my family set out to lakeland (an adjacent town) to visit ross, a discount clothing store for discontinued or disfigured garments. for us this was a big deal since it was one step up from goodwill or the salvation army. being that i desired so desperately to attend the surrounding style i knew i had to buy a ‘tommy hilfiger’ (an ‘all american’ apparel company) anything or everything.
my family gave me the usual spending limit and i had abandon all other staples, (such as socks, undergarment, and cheerios) for one and only one shirt. it was red and white striped, long sleeved tommy hilfiger shirt. i didn't want the shirt because it looked ‘cool’, in retrospect it may have been the worst piece ever in my wardrobe even at that time. i desired the shirt beyond anything because it had the hilfiger symbol on the left pocket that symbolized to all others “i am of worth,’ or so i desperately wanted. it didn’t.
you see all the lines in the shirt were vertical red and white but on the right sleeve the lines irregularly tilted towards the vertical. i thought no one would notice, i hoped that they would just concentrate on the branding i bought myself into. so here i spent all of my money in one place, on one shirt, and yet they did not focus on my new found importance, but that one sleeve did not match the rest of the shirt.
to this day, if anyone knows me personally they could tell you that i don’t wear any clothing where there is a symbol or branding of any company anywhere on my clothes if i can help it at all. i never want someone to feel less important or desirable even if your outfit may look the same as mine, but i announce to the world that i paid more by hosting a logo.
the second major event in the series of lifelong heckling happened around the same time. i wore payless boat shoes, not because they have ever been a fashion icon but because at pay-less shoe stores they cost about US13$. they were blue and the white sides would begin to crumble and virtually peel off as soon as you carried them outside the store.
a popular girl named amanda, whom i never will forget, made sure that when i walked into class the following day that she point it out to the entire classroom. “hey stephen, nice nike’s.” it was in that moment of collective classroom laughter that i realized that it was all pointless, i had tried the business of fitting in for years and no matter how hard i tried to buy into the system, the system never invested into me. from then on i converted the majority of my clothing to black, read and wrote, kept my head down, and was known as ‘the quiet kid’ in my high school career.
but looking back i would not have had it any other way. you see, the more i study history the more i realize that those who live their lives in the pursuit of making others accept them never make history at all. they have concentrated on promoting themselfs socially and not on what truly matters (such as knowledge, wisdom, and understanding).
look through history, it is the ‘troublemakers’ that stand out and change the world; some for good, some for worse. as a bumper sticker i once read exclaimed “well behaved women never make history.”
ghandi stood up. innocently enough through peaceful means he took down the british empire in india. the caste system he was born into made it readily available to live a very comfortable lifestyle, one that the british rule would not affect much. he could have ‘fit in’ or been comfortable in the situation he was in.
but... he didn’t stay in the mold, or follow the sheep. he became an individual.
one person -making history.
the list of men and women like this goes on; from joan of arc to martin luther each standing up as an individual. each not letting those that surround them (or the popular opinion) sway who they were or who they became.
time has taught me many lessons. but instead of going along with what others demanded of me socially i was freed to (as my mother would say) march to the beat of a different drummer. one of my greatest accomplishments is the fact that i turned my back on what others wanted me to become and in exchange changed into what i knew i could become. i am my own budha, i am my own judas iscariot, i am my own worst nightmare and best dream. i am a colossal failure, i am my greatest success, but at the end of the day i am me.
i am me.
be who you are.