Encountering Prejudice For Being Uniquely - Me! | Teen Ink

Encountering Prejudice For Being Uniquely - Me!

February 28, 2009
By Erik Hendley BRONZE, Lubbock, Texas
Erik Hendley BRONZE, Lubbock, Texas
1 article 0 photos 3 comments

Better Red?

I should begin by describing myself. Yet it is difficult. The way I view myself is different from the way others may see me. To begin with I have a shell of indifference that protects me from the harsh comments and looks that others may give. (And usually do.) And I hope this "shell" also protects them from my indifference at life. As an average looking student in a football school where physical dimensions dominate the scenery,I select to be myself: unique to the world. In the cruel world of high school social scenes I have made the decision to not be affected by society's cruel nature of hammering down the nail that sticks out. Yes, I am the nail. Red Hair And All! Yet I refuse to be hammered into a label and put into a box. I realize that I am different. But different is the new normal in today's society, although some in our community can not seem to accept the fact that different can be good. I pose the question: "If being normal is truly being what you were created to be, why would you not want to be unique?".

As a natural redhead with light skin, I stand out in a community of tan bodies and perfect hair. My hair is the most notable feature about me when you encounter my outgoing personality. I tried to dye my hair once with a dark blue-black color but noone recognized me without my ginger locks (gingerness they called it). It really wasn't that bad blending in or not being noticed with my new found hair color. But my personality definitely doesn't allow me to just sit on the side lines of life. I come off as a "Jerk" sometimes, mainly due in part to the protective shell I tote around. Kind of the notion that I will "verbally joust with you before you take the first punch". Nothing personal should be taken from my jokes as far as jokes are concerned. Unfortunately, many of them are not funny (except to me).
Oh, and I do flirt a lot. it is something I have always done and can't help myself most of the time. Occasionally in the middle of something serious or terse, I begin to start flirting for no apparent reason. It just happens before I think: reacting instead of being proactive by thinking ahead. It simply may be the radioactive fallout from attending a football school for so long. Recently, I have hit the arrogant stage of my life. My favorite teacher tells me it is hormones, yet I think that I am amazingly perfect. My teacher tells us that ego is important as it will get you through tough times and allow you to weather great storms if you use it wisely. Yet, with each encounter that amazing feeling is going away little by little.

In all honesty, I do not believe that I have friends. They are not able to get close enough before I push them away. But at the same time I know that I have people around me who care. It may be that I am a social "dud". As a friend, I will try to help you out as much as I can. Must be from being the underdog in life for so long. "Just name it and it" and (solution) "it is usually done" I tell my friends.

My brother Jimmy is a true friend. A great friend! An added plus is that he is also family and blood seems to tie together a long list of unusual oddities in our family. He has helped me on numerous occasions and I in turn help him when I can.
That old expression of "it is truly better to give than to receive" is correct. I love helping those who have a need.
There is no substitute for this feeling.

When I encounter prejudice, I let the comments flow past me. For the most part I have elected to be a peaceful, easy-going kind of guy. Growing up I had the stereotypical anger issues commonly associated with a boy growing up without a father. But soon I realized that it took up too much energy to be angry. Energy that goes nowhere! Apathy, I have found uses up almost no energy. Yet, there is a fear that the anger is still there ... only turned inside out. Turned now against myself. When I was in elementary school, I exploded with intense anger over almost any issue or incident. Was this narcissistic? Or just selfish? Then a good friend asked me to try apathy instead of anger. He said that being hurtful or cruel (hating) gives them a piece of you where as apathy gives them nothing. So now, when a large hulking football player makes an ugly remark about my redhair, my slight build or my original way of wearing clothing, I shrug it off and move on. After all, to do otherwise would only give them a piece of myself. And I am holding that back for someome very special!

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This article has 2 comments.

JE said...
on Mar. 13 2009 at 3:27 pm

Sid Says said...
on Mar. 8 2009 at 12:44 am
Wow! Extremely powerful writing! Thank you for showing the reader the real you and letting us hear your inner voice.

Very few in our society are secure enough to let down their walls and fences and let us see their true soul.

Prejudice has not gone away, it simply has moved underground and become socially exceptional. Your added voice helps to make us aware. And it also makes us think before we say an unkind comment!

Congratulations on a great story!