Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Sometimes, the change we fear the most is the one necessary in leading the future of our generation.
26 countries. 3 continents. 13 years.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from all the places I’ve been to and all the experiences I’ve had, it’s that our world? It’s changing. Everything that makes us unique is fading away and blending into one big mess of what is now considered “normal.” And a lot of the time, “normal” is just a substitute for “white.” Perhaps this problem has been here all along, and we’re only beginning to realize it, but it needs to be taken care of nonetheless. And if there’s one thing I know? It’s that if this continues for much longer, we won’t be able to walk out of it.
Something that has recently come to my attention is that when someone or something is different from the majority, the world likes to classify it as “odd,” or “unnatural.” If, say, 80 percent of the people in our world are white, the 20 percent that may be Black, Asian, Hispanic, or any other race will be discriminated against and judged. This is exactly where explicit and implicit bias comes from, and this goes for everything else as well, like racism, sexism, and ageism.
A few years ago, I began developing an awareness for my appearance, as well as everyone else’s. I became interested in the colourful selection of makeup stored on my mom's vanity, and I began seeing clothing in a different perspective. Through the process of developing my personal style and flair for fashion, I found myself being labelled a “copycat,” simply for my similar clothing choices to my friends and peers. Now, at the age of thirteen, I’ve found myself criticized once again, this time for my individual style and appearance, something I used to think would free me of people’s judgment.
When the world lacks diversity, people are desperate to put a label on everything. Is this cool, is it normal, is it right. Why? Why do we ask ourselves these questions? Why do we feel obliged to live for someone, or everyone’s approval? We have opinions, and voices. We all see things in our own different perspectives, and no matter how we try, we can’t change that. Trying to achieve everyone’s approval is like trying to like everybody, something that will never be accomplished.
Of course, everything is easier to judge when it has a title or a certain definition. When someone doesn’t want to specify their gender, they are labelled a genderless monster. If an activity is seldom practiced, it is seen as “weird,” or “unusual.” People no longer want elders, professionals, or even celebrities telling them what to do. With every move they make, people look to their peers and friends for advice and guidance. In a world where everyone is consumed with a desperate need to fit in, anything unique or remotely different is frowned upon.
But we don’t need a definition. We don’t need a normal! How beautiful is it really, that out of the 7.8 billion people out there, not one pair is exactly the same? And yet we try, we spend our lives trying to think of ways to hide what makes us special. We are willing to trade unique for normal. We are willing to risk losing our culture, our identity, and our personalities through imitation and jealousy. The only thing we should all have in common is acceptance and pride in what makes us different, not what makes us fit in. We should support each other because of all the quirks and talents that make each of us so uniquely ourselves, not criticize each other’s differences.
When you think of racism, what comes to mind? Do you think of the sentence, “We are all the same?” Because that’s what I hear, when I think about racism. I picture hundreds and thousands of people crowded together, holding up signs with those words scrawled across the paper. Take the numerous George Floyd protests that erupted across the US in 2020. Hundreds of thousands of people marched across Memphis, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles in support of the man who died in vain. As an Asian, who has experienced racism from all the different corners of the world, I can understand the message people are trying to get across. What I don’t understand, is why this phrase is seen as a source of comfort. Why do people take comfort in a sentence stating we are all the same? Because let’s face it, we’re not. Each and every one of us is unique, and different, and beautiful in our own way. The real problem here isn’t the world not being able to tell how alike we are. It’s the way people are unable to accept the fact that we’re all different.
So. If you’re listening, and you’re able…don’t wait. Don’t wait for celebrities and social influencers. Don't wait for your idols, your peers, or anyone you look up to to make the first move. Because when a problem involves people, it requires people to solve it. So picture this. Picture yourself 50 years from now. Would you rather be the one who made a difference in the world, or would you rather be the one reading that person’s name off the page of a history book? I do not doubt in the least that there are people out there, who want this change just as desperately as I do. And I believe, that working together, all 7.8 billion of us? We can achieve something as simple as acceptance of the world we created and everything in it.