Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
– T. S. Eliot, “Ash-Wednesday”
I can say from firsthand experience that “different” is a state of mind. I choose to be different. I refuse to sacrifice my individuality for the sake of fitting in, because being an individual implies that a person is a member of a group. I base my interests and tastes on what I enjoy – a philosophy of life which is far more effective than sacrificing my values and pretending to be something I am not. A real friendship should be based on honesty. According to C. S. Lewis, friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden) (The Four Loves).
My music is one good example of my singular tastes. I listen to what I like, despite what’s popular, and I find that the music I enjoy has a much longer lasting quality than the usual fad. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, for instance, is one of the most talented and successful composers alive today, yet the average person my age hasn’t even heard of him (or at least remembered). My other favorite, Barry Manilow, is as much a subject of ridicule as I seem to be. Although classical, Broadway and easy listening may not be typical fare of a teenager’s music collection, the universal quality of the music touches deep into the soul.
My love of music is balanced by the fact that I don’t enjoy sports. I think it’s boring to sit and watch somebody else play a game when I could be doing a multitude of things which have meaning to me. Members of my family think I don’t care for sports because I can’t play them. That’s only partly true. I don’t resent my limitations; I laugh at them. If other people enjoy sports, that’s fine with me. I just don’t want to waste my time being bored and uncomfortable because I don’t have any time to waste.Ã
For that reason, I came to believe that finding people who would accept me as I am would be next to impossible, and I built a shell. I decided that being alone and free was better than living in slavery to fashion and losing myself in the crowd. I figured that, if I remain true to myself, finding worthwhile friends wouldn’t be so difficult: they would find me. I am becoming successful in my quest for individuality and vindicating myself to those who said I would fail. I now have friends who accept me as a person, despite my idiosyncrasies. They understand that the parts make up the whole, and taking away even the slightest touch of my originality would be to take away my soul.A
Above all, my most important rejection of social norms is my strict conservative morality, my belief in the Natural Law, and my traditionalist attitude concerning my Catholic faith. Finding people who share my beliefs in any one of these areas, much less all three, would be extremely difficult. To stand up for beliefs and values is a very difficult task in modern society. Yet, that is the task I have chosen. This world has nothing to offer me which outweighs the rewards offered in Heaven, so Heaven is more important. Likewise, I have nothing to lose by making myself out as an example for others, because death is just around the corner, and there is no physical harm greater than that. If I’m right, I have a place waiting for me in the Father’s Kingdom. If I’m wrong, then my life doesn’t mean anything.ƒ
We are given, by reason of our humanity, unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To lose originality is to lose our souls. We would no longer have any
art, music or literature, nor would we enjoy what we did have. Instead, we would have every aspect of our lives controlled by the System, and nothing else would matter. Individuality is the essence of being human. Kermit the Frog’s theme song is about being yourself, and not wasting time wishing for another identity. “It’s not that easy, bein’ green,” and it’s not that easy being a Marfan, “but I think it’s what I want to be.”