Bullying, Fanny Packs and Fighting Conformity

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I was standing by the fence, staring into the eyes of our linebacker and the football team’s captain, Weber. “Why are you wearing the stupid fanny pack? You look like a dork with that thing on.”

There were 4 other guys hanging around, grinning and staring at me. I’m ten years old. Too tall, lanky and awkward. They knew I was homeschooled. They also knew I was weird. I guess I was. I told guys sorry when I hit them excessively hard during drills, and I wouldn’t say “butt” because I thought it sounded vulgar.

I swallowed hard.

I could have taken that navy-green fanny pack off. I could have told them I wore it as a joke.

Instead, I told them I liked wearing it. That I stored all kinds of cool stuff in their like a pocket knife, a compass, and a firestarter. When they asked me why, I told them that I loved the woods. That I wanted to be self-sufficient. That I enjoyed carving wood and being able to get home using only a compass.

They laughed at me for almost half the season. And the strange part was, it didn’t really bother me.

I realized that I had a tremendous advantage over them- they had no choice to conform. There entire self-worth depended completely on being cool, being accepted by peers that barely knew their first names. If they weren’t cool, if they didn’t look like everyone else, they were nothing. I had a mom, dad, siblings, and family that loved me for who I was, weirdness and all.

True creativity comes from not caring what others think. It comes from refusing to do something just because 3 million cool people in the United States are doing it. Being a creative is seeing the intrinsic value in things, and not letting peer pressure or the market be the only determining factor of the price tag you put on it. True creativity, by definition, is living a life of non-conformity (even if that means your life ends up looking very “normal” from the outside”). Living a creative lifestyle is loving things because they’re worth loving.

Don’t be afraid. Wear the fanny pack, and don’t let anyone stop you.