By Deborah Oh
It’s hard to say when we start to become insecure. I remember elementary school as a time of almost false confidence, buoyed by the belief that everyone must like us because there’s no reason not to. It was easy for us to make friends, to approach new people, to be ourselves.
And yet, somewhere along the line before high school, things have changed. High school has brought along with it a sense of growing insecurity in our appearance, in our personality, in our grades, in our sociability, in even our identity. We’ve become cognizant of watching eyes, and this petrifies us.
The cause of this insecurity is commonly known: our culture of comparison. It no longer matters whether people like us; it matters who they like better. We all know the feeling of being told, directly or not, that we are not as smart or attractive or popular as someone else. In our minds, this translates into the fear that we aren’t as good, that we aren’t as deserving. And even when others don’t cause this insecurity, we bring it upon ourselves because we don’t want to be left behind.
Everyone also knows the commonly attributed causes of this culture: the media, standardized testing, cliques. And these probably are a few of the causes. But, from my observations, the main cause is this: we just care too much. One thing I’ve noticed during my years in high school is that the people who are most confident are the people who just don’t care. And I don’t mean that they don’t care about doing well in school or making friends. I mean that they don’t care what people will say if they don’t do these things. These are the people who feel completely fulfilled being good for themselves. That is how we were in elementary school, when we didn’t know enough to compare ourselves to others. And that is how we should aim to be.
I know that it’s much easier said than done, and that not caring about what other people think is something almost impossible to achieve in the high school world where everyone cares too much. But working towards being self-fulfilled means that we can learn to be proud of how we are without having to make sure that we’re “better.” We can be perfectly satisfied with just being our best selves.
We speak our mind in the Opinion Section, publishing our take on current events, school controversies, and anything else we think might pique your interest.