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The Student Newspaper of Hopkins School

Voices: Overcoming the Pressure to Conform

Arnaaz Khwaja '17
Up until my senior year I tried so hard to be a person I thought others wanted to be friends with. 
From little things, like wearing clothing similar to others, all the way to my sense of humor and conversations I chose to participate in. I wanted people to like me, because it gave me a sense of validation. I am honestly not sure what happened, but somehow this summer I found myself; something in me snapped and I realized who I really wanted to be. I’m not saying this is an easy feat and that anyone can discover their true personality, but I was lucky. I came back to school this year ready to be myself. I can’t really describe my personality. I like dogs and the color purple, I wear flowy, flowery pants, have a lot of energy, love hugging people, and most importantly I love puns. That is my sense of humor; that is who I am, and I own it.

One of the hardest things to cope with is lack of
self confidence; it makes you question every action you take and every word you speak. What is even worse, is having people joke around about things that you are sensitive about. I am often times told to stop making jokes, and that I need to get better at sharing stories. While I get that people don’t intend to be harsh, it still hurts. Not because they are incorrect about my perhaps not stellar joke, but because it seems like an attack on my personality. As someone who had to spend months figuring out who they are, it is painful to feel like your personality is not wanted.

Believe me, it is way easier to be a different person: to gossip about certain topics or to tell certain jokes. And, I don’t want to sound 
like I have it all figured out and that I am completely, unabashedly myself. Not at all, I oftentimes find myself once again trying to fit in; I just usually end up noticing it, and try to stop. Being yourself is an active process; it requires you to constantly be thinking about why you are doing something or saying something. What is the end goal? To impress people, or because you truly want people to care?

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. There are days when I just sit there and don’t speak because I’m scared I will say something that will get a
negative reaction. Sometimes someone jokingly makes fun of me, and while I laugh with them, it hurts because it feels so personal. But, there are other days when I am completely, utterly myself; those are the best days – when I feel so comfortable that I can open up and expose my true identity.

I think at Hopkins we try to hide our problems that are not related to academics. And to be quite frank, I still rarely let people know the
lack-of-self-confidence side of me. It is a part of me that I wish did not exist; I feel overly emotional, and it makes me feel weak. Sure, I appear energetic and happy, but I have to put in a lot of effort to be that way. When I try to emphasize loving everyone, and being optimistic, it is because I know what it is like to feel like you are not good enough. It hurts to think that you annoy people, especially when it is due to your true identity.

However, I can truly say that I am much happier now than I was during most of my time at Hopkins, and it is solely because I have learned to embrace my personality. At the end of the day, I know that at the very least I am the person I want to be. Even if people try to shut me down, at least I am myself, and I only wish I had learned to be myself sooner. I want people to know that even if it is hard, and painful sometimes, being yourself is worth it. 
Editor in Chief 
Theodore Tellides

Managing Editor 
Katie Broun

Sarah Roberts
JR Stauff
Zoe Kim
Julia Kosinski
Connor Pignatello
Izzy Lopez-Kalapir
Lily Meyers
Veronica Yarovinsky

Ellie Doolittle
Katherine Takoudes
Leah Miller
Connor Hartigan
Saloni Jain
Simon Bazelon

Audrey Braun
Alex Hughes
Teddy Glover
Anushree Vashist
Sara Chung
Saira Munshani
George Kosinski

Olivia Capasso
Elena Savas
Noah Schmeisser
Ziggy Gleason
Casey Gleason
Melody Parker
Arthur Masiukiwicz

Nina Barandiaran
Arushi Srivastava

Business Managers
Caitlyn Chow
Sophia Fitzsimonds

Faculty Advisers
Elizabeth Gleason
Jennifer Nicolelli
Sorrel Westbrook
The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
The Razor,
 an open forum publication, is published monthly during the school year by students of: 
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