by Carson Wood

People get wrapped up in trying to become a stereotype that is accepted by peers they feel are important and advantageous to impress.

I found myself deep in thought, meandering through my lifetime, as I did my leg workout in this morning's quiet. Happiness in life must always come from within. Understanding that when we agree with another person's point of view, this agreement empowers that person. Agreeing with another person is sometimes used as a way to gain favor. This entire social situation might be better off avoided.

As young people, we get totally caught up in what others think, pushing us into stereotypical roles we often really would rather not be in. The snowball effect pushes us deeper and deeper down roads that often go in the wrong direction.

The choice of being a leader, who practices independent thinking and individualism, although the tougher road in life, is the high road to happiness. This life choice does not come easy and may take years to learn.

When fear can be instilled in another person, that fear is control. The fear of controversy and voicing opinion comes from low self-esteem, which brings us back to fear.

This all came to mind when I recalled a gym mate complaining about the music the other day. I recalled how in the '70s, there were distinct social groups that clashed due to intolerance. There were the bumper stickers that read, "Disco is dead and rock is rolling." In high school, there were the freaks, the jocks, and the brownies. Today, there are the skaters, the Goths, and the Abercrombie and Fitch people.

The gym was quiet this morning. I'm approaching 44 years old. The things that once mattered a lot seem so foolish now. My stereotype comes from my own mind's eye. My creative mind defines who I am. I may be inspired by the look of others, but I'm my own person.

My hope is that young people can see themselves in their own creative minds with a healthy dose of love for themselves; that they can be independent thinkers who challenge rather than blindly follow, and people who can define themselves by their positive inherent attributes, independent of superficial social expectations.

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