January 2002
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Freak, Geek or Sheep? The choice is yours.
By: Rhea Topolniski, Grade 11,
Tec Voc High School, Winnipeg, MB

Being a teenager is much harder than most adults think. Many things have changed since today's adults were teens so they wouldn't know what it's like, right?

Today, teens struggle with keeping up with all of their friends, dating, and being sure to be a part of the latest trends... at least it seems that's what most of them are doing. There are some individuals, outcasts as they're called, who actually do their own thing. There isn't too much attention focused on them, which could either be a good or a bad thing.

Some people just enjoy standing out. It's not fun to blend in with everybody else and it can be shown in any way, fashion being an easy way to express yourself. There are countless places to purchase clothing, from chain stores found in malls to independent stores found anywhere around the city. Stores found in malls tend to focus on more mainstream fashion while independent shops usually have a more specific theme to them, category perhaps. Osborne Village is a well-known host for independent businesses and many stores there offer items you may not find anywhere else in Winnipeg. However, cost always comes into play. A stereotype often used is how richer people are popular because they can afford the latest brand-name products, yet clothing from independent shops is almost always more expensive than mass-produced clothing. Maybe there is a price to not being a sheep?

People usually label people who stand out, may it be "goth", "punk" or even being rude like "freak." It happens a lot (though some people may take "freak" as a compliment, there's some proof they're different). There are some who label themselves and then others who don't want to have a label because they are just an individual. Everybody has the right to choose for themselves if they want a label or not. Labels seem to be automatically chosen by society though, and it's hard to get rid of them even if you don't want them. If you want to be an individual you should be prepared for many insults and being harassed by people. If you actually want to be different, the negative remarks from the clones shouldn't bother you; they're just being close-minded.

Now I can't speak for everybody who stands out, but I certainly don't see excitement in being popular and dating. Close friends mean much more to me than a large number of people. I could never get to be extremely close with a large group of people, and I feel relationships are so much better when they're closer and more personal. I also don't see dating as a staple to life. It seems many teenagers aren't mature enough to be able to handle dating as something to be doing casually, and making such a large part of their life. It's also done so out of place. If I see a couple in the hall "making out" I tend to want to look away in disgust. That should be left for when they're alone.

Look in the purse of the girl sitting in the front row, what do you find? Makeup, a cellular phone or pager, money, perhaps various cards such as phone cards, credit cards or a bank card. You'll probably find something like that in the purse of many girls. I've learned that from observing people in school. Look in my purse, what do you find? Well, I don't carry a purse in the first place because I have nothing to put in one. A person doesn't really need to catch up on all the latest things in technology. Being well informed could be beneficial, yet you don't have to own every single new thing that appears. Many things aren't really a necessity and come off as being a nuisance to others.

There's probably much more that could be said regarding my views on the differences between the individuals and the sheep. Many people try to say "but everybody's different" and while that's true, everybody differs in slight ways, there are many people who are slaves to the media. I refer to them as "clones" or "sheep" just the way people label me "freak" or other things, but I don't do it to specifically offend them. It's just how I see them. I am not trying to say that by being different I am any better than them. I'm just saying that I find it much more interesting to stand out from the rest of the crowd, and be known for it.