Issues. I’m surrounded by them, each one more agitating than the next. They tear apart the illusion I naively created to block out reality, but the unvarnished truth always rears its ugly face. I can’t stand it. But the issue most present in my life and peers around me are the standards by which we define ourselves. We pick at the unfinished canvas that is us, staining our self image and in turn the way we see ourselves. Both girls and guys delineate their value by inconceivable, unbelievable, stupidly unrealistic standards that run rampant in our society today, and most likely always will. There will always be imperfections that we might not be okay with, and that’s fine (for the most part). But should our self worth rest on whether or not we wear brand clothing or look a certain way? There is a thin margin, a very strict guideline that dare not be crossed if one wants to stay away from being ridiculed. This might mean one meal a day (because who doesn’t want to be anything above a size 0?). Maybe hours of painting our faces so we seem perfect to those around us (because girls are supposed to be perfect, with no hint of anything human or perfectly normal whatsoever). Or, (and this is my favorite) acting dumb so you can get attention and going to unnecessary heights so that we may be… normal. Huh. Ironic. We pick masks to depict a facade that greys in comparison to the person that shines within. We turn away from helping those that don’t fit this very fine guideline just to be ‘cool’. Others even go as far as bullying, and unfortunately people turn away from that too. The concept itself seems absurd, and in fact is, yet this unyielding trend has tainted schools (like this one) for far too long. Why can’t we be the accepting community we always talk of? Why is it that I feel compelled to wear makeup and restrict the needs of my body daily, weekly, or monthly? I guess I was infected. This plague is contagious; it feeds on innocent minds and corrupts souls. Side effects include anorexia, depression and a broken lense through which we see ourselves. It never occurred to me that my number one goal for a long time was fitting this guideline, thus becoming the perfect host for this virus. I would wake up and dress to impress, begin gluing on and picking off pieces of myself I didn’t like. My choices were affected by what others would think of me (generally still are), and I’m deeply disappointed. Sometimes at others, but mostly at myself, for succumbing to this furor. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve recognized that it is a problem and I’m gradually trying to undo the damage that it has done. Some side effects are of course permanent, with an unrelenting, interminable reminder of this disease that shadowed me so long ago. However, the antibiotic is easily attainable because it derives from within us. We must gradually learn to replace the broken lense we look out of, and tear apart the seams that uphold this trend. It might take the whole school, as ending this reign of terror would be difficult, but I think it’s possible. I may just be that introverted girl at the back of the classroom, and only one student amongst hundreds… but I’ve got a pretty strong feeling about this one.