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Alice Yang
Yang is a contributing columnist for the Fort Bend Star.
She is a student at Stephen F. Austin High School-FBISD.

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.
Who’s Laughing Now?  

Last week, while pushing through the throngs of people in my school’s main hallway, I saw a pimpled-face blond kid in a black t-shirt. On it were the words “You laugh at me because I’m different. I laugh at you because you all are the same.”

Right then, I did a double take. At first, I just thought that it was one of the better graphic tees I’ve read in a while (in comparison with the popular innuendo-filled junk I see everyday). But then, while sitting in government class and daydreaming out the window, I realized how the shirt basically sums up my whole high school identity struggle. In fact, how it is every high schooler’s identity struggle.

Let’s rewind back to freshmen year. Conformity was hot. Everyone wore the same Abercrombie shirts with the same aggressive nonchalance. Boys styled their hair the same way, and girls wore the same colored eye-shadows. I think back then, everyone looked up to the styles and manners of the popular kids (cheerleaders, football players.. the usual) whether they admit it or not.

Then sophomore year, people realized they need to stand out. And then it was nonconformity for nonconformity’s sake. Ha. That was seriously my motto. I mean, I went all out as far as experimenting with different styles and even personalities. I wore skirts over jeans, striped scarves, and green eye-shadow. And I deliberately donned different personas just for fun. Now that I think about it, what a great year. I think amidst all the struggle to stand out, I did become a nonconformist at heart.

To conform or not to conform? Isn’t that a silly question? But it’s the only two categories available in high school. Conformists happily conform. And Nonconformists are still conforming to the rule of the nonconforming. It’s all about finding that niche, that clique. Even the Nonconformists have strict rules about how to fight the crowd. The most dangerous situation is when you are straddling the two. God forbid you are an emo kid wanting to go to the school dance. Or a cheerleader excited about the math club. Then both groups, conformists and nonconformists alike, will give you the weird eye.

So back to the shirt kid. What makes him different? Sure, not playing football or holding pom-poms does, but what’s wrong with those things? And just because he’s not like the supposed majority doesn’t give him the right to condescend and laugh at the others. Really, intolerance is just another word for insecurity. As far as I could tell, why should anyone be laughing at all?

Yang is a contributing columnist for the Fort Bend Star. She is a student in FBISD.

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   Last Update:  October 04, 2006