I was in ninth grade, just starting out at a new high school. It was a few months in, so I had started making new friends, becoming more comfortable with people. There was this one guy who was one year older to me. We were on the bus, talking, messing around and having fun. I said something that I don’t remember, but his response changed my life.
“Why are you so afraid to be judged?”
Fortunately, he asked me as it was my stop and I had to get off the bus because I was left quite speechless after that. I couldn’t answer his question. Believe me, I tried to, but I couldn’t. I thought about it for weeks. When I started high school, I felt this pressure to fit in. This was actually true for middle and elementary school. You know, trying to be in the cool kid group.
I had no answer to his question. What was I afraid of? Becoming a reject? Do I want the popular kids of the school to think that I was uncool? Well, let's think here. How are the ninth graders in my school qualified to judge me? What did they do to earn the right to judge me? In fact, why does anyone in my school get to judge me? They don’t know me.
Since then, I changed. I said and did stupid things that might have been considered lame to some snooty kid in my high school, but I didn’t care. Not caring about what others thought of me led me to find friends who are like-minded and I enjoyed spending time with. I found a group of friends that I actually enjoyed being with and I was able to be myself with. We may not be the “popular kids”, but since that one question, I couldn’t give a shit if we were the most popular or not.
I carried this with me into University and probably will for the rest of my life. Anyone and anything that stops me from being myself is not worth wasting my time worrying about. Nobody has time to be someone they are not.