For too long I’ve sat in silence as the people around me dictate my life. On multiple occasions, I’ve told myself that they don’t define me and “I am totally a hipster” (I often talk like this in real life—sorry to disappoint you). But really, this has merely distracted me from the truth: people stop me from being who I want to be in this world. These people can be anyone from my parents to my close friends to total strangers. The really strange thing is that I let strangers, of all people, affect me in the most noticeable way.

A week ago, a man I see at the library every once in a while walked up to me and said, “You look like a hippy!” He was commenting on my extraordinarily long (for me) hair. I brushed him off, but deep down I started to think about it. Two days later I scheduled a haircut, which I canceled today because I don’t want to spend the money and don’t really need one.

All of this is coming directly from the lower-ranking part of society, the very small portion that is homeschooled. That’s me. Being “sheltered”, as “normal” people call it, has apparently damaged me in a severe fashion. They say I’m more introverted, which isn’t normal. I always feel like I’m being judged by people, even when they’re joking. Even though I’ve corrected many of these issues, in certain circumstance I will still jump to my feet to change something when I feel I’m not fitting in. That’s an obsession, I suppose. It could also be known as a side-effect of homeschooling. Whatever the cause, I’m here writing this because I want to help other people like me.

It’s so easy to be ashamed of your identity in society. Identity is a big word, yet it’s not discussed often enough. Parents don’t seem to tell their children about how important their identity is. It molds our very existence, yet we don’t spare the time to have a chat about how precious it is. I wonder why.

I, personally, am uncomfortable with things that are out of my marginal bubble. Because, you know, everything else is oh-so-boring. But it’s not. I’ve just been led to believe it is by the media, by the close-minded people I listen to. When I say “things”, I mean anything from how I talk to people to what I choose to do in front of my friends. In reality, though, what’s so bad about these things? They’re all reflections of who I am. Well, unless I do them based on what others might think. Then they’re just boring recycled ideas—not that all recycled ideas can be boring. “I can change that today, though!” I think to myself each morning. If only it were that easy.

It is easy to go to sleep each night with an ambitious thought like that one, but it’s not quite so effortless to wake up with the same thought. I am often too distracted by other things, like what to eat and what to do with my empty day. It’s confusing how quickly empty days get filled with meaningless drivel rather than life-changing things like what I mentioned above. Of course, not every day needs to change the course of your life. Not every day must be monumental. There needs to be one or two sprinkled into your month, though.

What am I getting at? Oh, I don’t know anymore. This is a blog, not a book or professional media outlet or academic speech. I don’t have to perfectly organize every single thing. I’d like to, but for the purpose of not making this post an oxymoron, I will refrain.

I’d like to leave you with this: be who you are. I don’t care who everyone else says you should be, or if they seem to be judging you for listening to music with profanity in it, or if you are simply different. Just be that. Be different. Be the inspiring you, because you have unique ideas, even if you don’t see them yet. You can tame the crazy you when at work, or you can find a job that better suits it. Your friends may not approve of who you are, but that’s an easy fix: find new ones. If they can’t support you, they don’t deserve you.

Oh, and being the real you doesn’t mean you should go seeking attention constantly because you believe it’s part of you. (By this I mean playing your music too loud when strolling down Main Street and through traffic like I do. It’s a waste of time.) There are improvements to the best of character, you know. You can’t do the same thing every day and ever expect an interesting life.

Am I just yelling at a wall here? I’ve listened to this speech my whole life and never really cared. I wish someone had given it to me when I was a child, when I listened to everything ignorantly, because that’s the important learning period of our lives. That’s the time our outlandish creativity should be embraced. But I’ll get to parenting at another time—when I have a child of my own so I can speak of first-hand frustrations and love.