I find myself writing about individuality often; it’s because, as a fresh-faced adult, I’m growing into myself. I cannot discard my peculiarities to conform to others’ standards, something I especially learned this past quarter. I was smacked with a new label a month ago: “uncomfortable,” or rather, uncomforting — by a flock of freshmen whom I shared a budding amity with.
As an outgoing and affectionate person, this word was perplexing to me. How was it that I was unsettling towards others? I could understand how I may be disliked; I’m kind — yet stubborn, loving — yet assertive.
I’ve been called words that can’t be recounted here many times before, but uncomforting was an unfamiliar slap to the face. The slap stung worse when I discovered why: I talked about politics during an “inappropriate” occasion.
Note to self: feminist rants are not accepted in certain male friend groups during the wee hours of the morning. Second note to self: I do not care. Anyone who knows me is aware of my unwavering passion; I am excited by every topic I concern myself with, whether that’s brushing my teeth or talking about equality among the sexes.
As a 19-year-old, I’ve come to terms with my best friend’s advice on friendship: drop unaccepting people. We are simply too old to tiptoe around the uninviting aspects of certain individuals. It’s understandable that friendship takes compromise, but that is solely for the friends who’ve been through the thick and thin.
Acquaintances are far different. I recently came across a quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” that had a striking parallel to my situation. In a letter to his teenage son, Coates wrote, “You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.”
I froze at the line’s relevance. I was, after all, not sorry that my political talk made a group of grown men uncomfortable.
In the end, I was permanently booted from this dorm’s floor for the remainder of my time at Drexel, but I see this expulsion as a constructive happening; I’ve learned that I’ll never alter myself to fit in—even when it literally means getting kicked out.