Dare to be Different

After four years at the Capstone, it is hard to believe that my time as an undergraduate is coming to an end. The things I have learned here and the people I have become close with will never be forgotten.

Since coming to The University of Alabama, I have met some of the strangest, most loving individuals I have ever known. Through all of the inevitable ups and downs of our college careers, we have remained extremely close. I credit these lasting friendships to the allure of individuality.

Each one of these people I have come to call my family has a distinct set of quirks that can, at first, seem overwhelming and odd. But somehow, this is what drew me to them and is what has made our friendships endure. Out of a campus of over 36,000 people, I have remained close with only a select few oddballs.

What draws me the most to them is the fact that they don’t try to hide their eccentricities. Unlike many people on this campus, these people don’t fit in, and they don’t try to, either.

I believe this is what will make me remember these people forever. Through four years at the University of Alabama, the faces of almost all of the thousands of people I have met will ultimately fade into a distant memory, while I will be able to recall the times being “different” with these people until I can remember nothing else about my time at the Capstone.

This is why I implore you, as a member of the University of Alabama community: Dare to be different. So many times I have walked through campus and been disappointed to see the same people everywhere I go, like a glitch in the matrix. So many conversations have been interrupted by a shrill, “Can you believe she wore that?!” or a judgmental, “What are those Mallet kids doing now?” Instead of bringing each other down for not conforming, we should be celebrating each other’s differences. Your quirks are what make you you; they are what sets you apart from others. Why be everyone else when you can be yourself?

Next time you want to ask your roommate, “Is this shirt too weird to wear tonight?” tell yourself that you bought it for a reason and wear it anyway. Next time you have qualms about joining an organization you don’t care about with all of your friends because you don’t want to seem strange, tell yourself that you can do what you choose, because individuality is important.

Though undoubtedly the need to conform comes from the development of societal norms, it is of utmost importance that our culture retains some semblance of individuality. Sometimes it can be easier to conform than to go against the grain, but if it weren’t for people thinking and acting outside of the box in the past, some of the best things to happen to the world wouldn’t have happened. Some of the best music, fashion, television and movies were born in the brain of “oddballs” and “weirdos.” We should be celebrating these people, not bringing them down.

In the words of one of these weirdos, Dr. Seuss, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than You.”

Katie Shepherd was the Assistant News Editor of The Crimson White.

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