Be who you are in spite of

There is an issue I have found to be an increasing trend on campus.

I was talking to a good friend and we’ve both noticed a large group of students on campus – especially female – feel they have to change who they are to survive the hustle and bustle at GSU. In case you need me to elaborate, a lot of students feel they have to change their personalities to fit in.

For example, a young lady (let’s call her Taffy) was quoted as saying “next semester I will have to start being meaner because people mistake my kindness for weakness.” Now, Taffy is genuinely a nice person who treats people with an kindness that is rare at GSU. Yet, due to constant mistreatment, she feels it necessary to change her persona to combat the negativity she constantly incurs. Little does she know, her niceness has benefited at least one person on this campus. Her genuine good nature has quite possibly been the reason a person has been able to keep going when it seemed like the whole world was pitted against them. That one gesture of kindness, passively handling an aggressive situation, or something as miniscule as a smile has reminded someone that the world is not as cruel as it seems.

Another example, there is this guy (let’s call him Mark) who said, “I am joining this organization so I can be part of its forward movement. I want to spark positive change in it.” Now, Mark has always been a nonsmoker and a light drinker, yet as soon as he became a member, instead of remaining true to his values, he has become a weed smoker and drunk.

Scenarios like these are disappointing, especially when there were so many others looking up to him. Little did he know several prospects of the organization are wary of joining because they feel they too will lose their identity. I hate to beat a dead horse, but joining an organization is not supposed to change you. YOU are supposed to use the organization to invoke change within your community.

Gary* and Shayla* were in a relationship. Shayla cheated on Gary. Prior to this, Gary was always respectful of women and attentive to their needs. He was an ideal boyfriend who treated his girlfriends like queens. After his long term first love with Shayla ended, he became frustrated with women altogether, becoming a womanizer, gigolo and an abuser. A man who only touched a woman with deliberate gentleness now only touches a woman during the heat of pleasure or amid an act of violence, not realizing that one those women he had a one-night stand with could have been his wife. And while he was slapping someone’s sister, someone else may have been slapping his momma. Being bitter is not the answer, moving on is the key.

Saying all of this to say, don’t let situations, circumstances or emotions force you to change the person you are. Genuine goodwill and kindness go a long way in the cruel and harsh world. Don’t put out your light, for if you do everyone will live in darkness. I know this GSU atmosphere can be difficult, but the chosen few who endure much criticism for the good they do cannot let themselves be hindered by those nay sayers. We have to push forward to ensure a better tomorrow for those who come after us. Just remember, everything we endure in life has a greater purpose and since we don’t know whose path we are to cross, we have to stand firm and believe that we, no matter how small in number, can change the world. My personal life quote: “Why blend in, when you were born to stand out!”


Marisa D. Turner is a graduate student from Eunice.