Individuality in High School


Madison Galloway, staff writer

John F. Kennedy once said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” America is a nation built on a foundation of liberty and prosperity, but JFK’s statement shows a clear paradox in America. As Americans, we strive to be free and to grow, but how is that possible if we constantly conform to everyone around us? Every day at Gaffney High School I see copy this and copy that. Whether the trend is the Harlem Shake, Ju Ju on That Beat, or the Mannequin Challenge, we as conformist-prone American high school students, cling to what is common. The hottest trending video on Twitter turns into our most talked about conversation. Our lunch table conversations turn into videos that match the ones with the most views online. Those videos we create turn into more and more and more videos until everything that is seen on social media is the same.

By all making similar comments, videos, updates, statuses, and trends, we eliminate our right as Americans to be unique, to be ourselves. Technology and social media both make our conformity problem worse by globalizing what everyone is doing. Because seeing what others are doing is made easy by means of the internet, conforming to what others are doing is just as simple. By conforming to the outside world, we lock ourselves in a box where no new innovations are allowed and unique thoughts are not intelligent. Being an individual, outcast, weirdo in high school is by far one of the most challenging struggles we as high school students meet, but overcoming the fears of being different can be metamorphic. We should strive to not just be different, but be true to who we are.

Conforming is not only a trend on our favorite social media sites, but conforming is an act every high schooler plays in the classroom. We tend to copy our neighbor’s essay style instead of creating our own. We would rather re-write Susie’s pre-cal worksheet than attempt to use our own brains. We use notes from the guy who sits behind us because we are too tired to write our own. I witness high school conformity first hand in my chemistry class when we gave presentations while being either for or against nuclear power. After the first ten or so students presented, the repetition of common issues was as obvious as a banana being yellow. Student after student repeated exactly what his or her peer who presented previously said; this conformity not only made the student look severely dependent on others, but his or her lack of individuality caused the argument to be weakened and lack intelligence. Being afraid to be different is just as harmful to ourselves as branching out and being unique can be.

High school is a harsh place that bashes us for not being popular and classifies us as strange if we are the slightest bit different. Through the four years that we wake up one hundred and eighty mornings each year, we arrive at a school that forces us to be the same. Even as tough as being unique can be, we must break the box placed around us and be who we want to be, not who everyone wants us to be. We must like what we like, see what we see, hear what we hear, and be who we are even if it causes us to stick out like a green pumpkin at the pumpkin patch.

“Be beautiful, be YOU.” Madison Galloway