Being Yourself Amidst the Haters

By: Sarah Brill  |  May 12, 2020

By Sarah Brill, Sci-Tech Editor 

Over the past two years that I have been at Stern, I have learned the power of conformation — the influence one group of people can play on one individual. It is so difficult to remain yourself when everyone around you is doing something different. Coming to Stern two years ago on move-in day, I stood in a long line of Stern students, waiting to pick up my key in the boiling late-summer sun, wearing my black skirt and peach top, knowing that with this outfit, I would certainly fit in. Being a person who needed to fit in has always been my fatal flaw. In middle school I was bullied for being too quirky, in high school I didn’t necessarily dress the same as my classmates, and I was determined that in college, I would fit in. As time passed, my personality remained buried beneath the black cotton skirt I wore everyday, until I read an unsettling post on the YU and Stern Confessions page outing girls who did not wear skirts. This anonymous user said that these students should be kicked out of the university for not abiding by the dress code. This really struck a chord. The fact that a student would go out of their way to tell a group of students that they are attending school in an immodest manner, really hurt. I felt personally attacked, not only because I wore “immodest” clothing outside of Stern, but also because everyone I knew did as well. 

What is truly amazing about being you, is that you get to express yourself in any way you choose, but it comes at the risk of judgement from your peers. This year, I made it a point to no longer conform to university standards. I was done “fitting in.” In any case, an old trend that needed to die hard. The first year I was on campus, I was yearning to express myself from the start, but was afraid to do so. Now I wear my Queen shirt proudly to class and witness scattered stares of disapproval, but I don’t care. I dress retro every Thursday and am eyed by my peers in my class, but I don’t care. I don’t care because I am myself, I am respecting my peers, and I am striving to be the best version of myself for the first time in my college career, and that is all I can ask of myself. 

Gone are the days when I cared if I conformed to the standards set by the students in my schools. I am my own person, and if people don’t like that, then they don’t need to talk to me. And honestly, this has been the best realization I have ever come to. My fake friends left my feed, and were replaced by some of the best people I would come to know at Stern. My authentic self was tested when I got a call from a student who grew up Reform and was wondering if Stern was the right fit. I told her straight up, “If you stay true to yourself and be who you are no matter who tells you what to be, then this institution will ultimately shape you to be an even better person than when you walked in.” 

I stand by these words months after the conversation. This school is shaping me into a better, more unique person, even if that is not what the school intended. I am glad that I have re-discovered my personality, and I will continue to showcase it through the clothing I wear and the attitude I carry with myself as I enter my senior year.