Punks, Ravers & Labeling

LabelsSkaters, punks, hip-hoppers, ravers, blah blah blah...

These labels are getting old. Why do teens need to label people in order to understand their world? "Are you a rocker?" "What kind of music do you listen to?" "Oh, then you must be a gino..."

Who cares?

When it comes down to it, do you really think that twenty, thirty, forty years from now, anyone is honestly going to care if you were a preppy, a jock or a brainer in high school? These tags are ridiculous.

On a number of occasions I've been asked, "So, what are you?" How do you answer that kind of question? I've never been able to respond. It's hard to think of yourself as a label.

I dress like a raver, but I don't go to raves. I listen to punk music, but I'm not a punk. I like hip-hop, but I'm not a hip-hopper. I love football--but darn it, I'm not a jock either.

Teenagers don't realize that it doesn't matter how you dress or what music you listen to--what matters is who you are. You need to ask yourself, are you truly an individual?

I asked this question to an acquaintance of mine. At first she laughed. "Of course I am," she said. I told her to take the time to really think about it, and as she did, I could see her becoming sad.

She is a 16-year-old girl who belongs to a group of friends, a clique. They all wear Tommy Hilfiger clothes, big hip-hopper pants, earphones around their necks, and Fila running shoes.

That one question made this girl realize that she does not stand out. No one would ever be able to tell her apart from her friends. And, because of that, no one will ever see and appreciate her unique individuality.

Why are so many teens afraid that their peers will shun them if they fail to meet the dress code, or the accessory and musical requirements of a certain clique? Why do so many of us feel ashamed that we cannot afford those Nike shoes?

Teenagers are afraid of being alone and of being rejected, that's why.

I'll admit it; I was one of those people once. I dressed like my friends because I wanted to fit in. I listened to their music so they would think I was cool. But to tell you the truth, not being me got old real fast.

I had a risky taste in fashion that I just couldn't hide anymore. Slowly, I started dressing how I liked and listening to music that I liked. And you know what? No one shunned or teased me, and I wasn't laughed at.

People approached me to tell me how bold I was for dressing flamboyantly. I got more attention than I ever had. I learned that when you let your inner-self shine, people are drawn to you.

I know so many guys and girls who are scared to let their true identities show. Most of them resort to hiding out as a kind of clone.

The chance to find yourself, and learn who you are is something that most human beings yearn for. Some people make use of that chance at a young age, some never do.

By labeling yourself you give up that chance. I can guarantee you that it is not the way to become an individual. It will only place you in the same category as about a million other people. Think about it, do you really want to be just some person out of a million? Consider whether you want to live your life being a stereotype.

I'm sure you've all been told to "be yourself" about a hundred times. I used to get sick of hearing it, that is until I actually bothered to think about what it meant and followed that advice. So while I'm not a raver, or a punk, or a hip-hopper, or a jock, I am happy to be me. Can you say the same for yourself?

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