Let them look

In the world we live in today we are expected to be perfect at all times. We must fit in and look like our friends. We must talk the same and act the same and go to the same parties. We must get perfect grades, play perfectly during sports and look perfect while doing it. We cannot stand out, because individuality is threatening. People will judge you. People will “look at you.”

Just take a look at my little sister.

She and I were driving in my truck on the way to school talking about music. My sister is really into punk rock bands like Panic! at the Disco, Paramore and Fall Out Boy. Nobody would expect that from her. She wears volleyball t-shirts and leggings most of the time, not band tees from the music she loves. As she told me about some new songs she had listened to, something really stuck out at me.

So many people live in fear everyday that they’re being analyzed by others. They hide what they truly love to do. They think they don’t live up to society’s standards. I see it in my sister’s friends. They’ll stand in front of her dresser mirror in her little blue bedroom and pick themselves apart like they’re turkey to be carved. My hair is a mess today. Do I look okay? I feel so fat. This shirt is stupid; why did I wear this?

I see it in my own friends too. I see their smiles that don’t reach their eyes as they laugh at something they don’t actually think is funny. I see their obsessions with a daily work grade, because to them an 86 is absolutely unacceptable. I see how they completely change themselves around a boy. I see how they spend over ten minutes scrutinizing their chins for any stray zits or freckles, quickly smothering them in makeup.

Of course I’ve gone through insecurities myself. I’ve gone from a graphic-tee-wearing, Twilight-obsessed seventh grader to a quiet freshman in marching band dressed in jeans and Converse to a hardcore feminist donning messy hair and lipstick. And at times I wasn’t always secure with who I was.

Now I’m not afraid of the things I love. I drive a brown 1985 GMC Sierra Classic pickup truck. I wear bright sundresses, but I also wear Harry Potter socks and mermaid necklaces. I pride myself for my love of 70s rock, archery and Avatar: The Last Airbender. I walk around school with a How To Train Your Dragon 2 backpack strapped behind me.

As I’ve reached my senior year, I’ve realized that worrying doesn’t amount to anything. Love your thick thighs. Love your thigh gap. Love your anime. Love your Gossip Girl. Love your tan legs. Love your pale face. Love your grades. Love your performances. Love that you tried. Love yourself.

Because at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be afraid that people might look at you. As long as you’re being who you are, it doesn’t matter.

Let them look.