"Why do we worry so much about what other people think of us?" asked the guest speaker in Youth Group. "Why do we change who we are to earn their approval? Why do we put so much effort into our appearance, trying to impress others?"
I understand that a lot of kids in youth need to hear that message. And I learned quite a few things from it, too. But after ten years of homeschooling, it'll take more than hormones to get me interested in my appearance.
Okay, that's not to say that I absolutely don't care about taking care of myself. I shower normally every day, except for some Fridays when I stay up surfing YouTube until 11:00 and it's not worth it anymore. I brush my hair and use generic Proactive on my face. I have my own personal style in clothes, which is best described as Utilitarian Country. I will wear a limited amount of makeup to church, and I will wage a holy war against any pimples that dares show itself on my face.
But what I look like definitely isn't the most important thing in my life. And why should it be? When you're homeschooled, you don't need to try to impress anyone. My parents don't care what I look like. Neither does my sister. Heck, I actually get dressed every morning, which is more than can be said for some homeschoolers.
And this is one of the things I like about homeschooling. I didn't grow up with the pressure of having to impress people. I wore what I wanted to. I spent my money on things for my American Girl doll rather than saving up so I wouldn't be the only kid without a phone. Heck, I don't even know if most kids my age had phones. I just knew my friend Jessie, who lived behind us, had a TV in her bedroom, and that Mom said it wasn't good. Besides, who needs a TV when you have The Boxcar Children?
And during my ten years as a homeschooler, I forged my identity relatively free of bad influences. I picked up hobbies and learned new skills. I learned what I liked and disliked. I grew in my faith without being teased for it. And didn't do any of it based on what others thought about me. The only thing I picked up 'because everyone else did it' was the Silly Bands fad that crossed the nation when I was 9 or so. I'm unique, I'm creative, and I know who I am. And I contribute that, at least in part, to being homeschooled.
Why can't everyone think like that? Why is it so hard to cast off the herd mentality that binds everyone to iPhones and Nikes and trending haircuts? Why do we think that being ourselves is a sin, that we have to look and talk and act just like everyone around us? Because we don't.
People praise fictional characters for their uniqueness. Hiccup doesn't want to kill dragons like the rest of the Vikings on Berk. Tula from My Big Fat Greek Wedding doesn't want to be a "loud, breeding, Greek eater" like the rest of her family. And we love them for it. But what happens when a person in real life breaks tradition? I've literally seen memes saying it's okay to kill morning people, such as myself, and I'm not okay with that. I've just learned not to give a crap.
I'm not telling you to go crazy, but I am giving you a license to be yourself without worrying what other people think about you.
What was a major influence in your life growing up? And, dare I ask, do you prefer Samsung or Apple? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.