Individuality should be respected, not ridiculed

At some stage in our lives, we all experience an identity crises.

We question our reasons for liking or disliking something, and measuring the

influence of peer pressure on our decisions. The main question we ask is:Who am I?

I never asked myself these questions because I’ve always been comfortable with my individuality.

I did not care that my wardrobe did not contain the styles that most girls my age wore.

I didn’t care that my choice of slang terms were different from my peers or that some of the music in my personal collection included rock, classic and even country.

Unfortunately, I was introduced to ignorance. My more grown-up style was frowned upon during my teenage years. I was told that I was “over doing it.”

I was laughed at and called weird because I liked music by white artists.

Also, I never cared too much for eating meat.

At this point, I began to think, “Am I weird?” Because of the negative feedback I was receiving about my differences, I changed to fit in.

My wardrobe changed. I began copying the more popular styles I tried to talk like my peers and I began adding more rap music to my collection.

I’ve never had anything against rap. I like some rap artists. It just never appealed to me.

By changing my own personal styles to “fit in” I was lying to myself. This is the worst lie that can be told.

I was cheating myself of being me all because of the failure of others to understand what an opinion is.

An opinion is an individual thought, idea or perspective. It is not right or wrong. Just as my personal fashion, music or eating style; it’s all opinion.

It’s not to be understood, accepted or judged; just know yourself.

The most intelligent way to view an opinion is with an open mind.

An intelligent person is one who is comfortable with one’s self and one who “respects” the differences of others.

Our individual differences is what makes us special and allows us to offer unique contributions to the world.

Keri Young, 23, is a senior public relation student from Pensacola.