Attributes. Characteristics. Mannerisms. These are some of the things that differentiate one individual from another. Some people are like an open book, flowing with information about themselves, others, you have to do a little digging.  I’m one of those people.  While my personality has always been more on the extroverted side; I sometimes flutter in between from friendly and outgoing to apathetic and listless.  Always talkative and outgoing, growing up had a lot of friends, from all different walks of life.

Green, Ohio; that’s where I spent my adolescence and school days, coming into my own.  My high school was the epitomy of white suburbia, most of the students coming from families living in 3-4 bedroom colonial style houses, with the median income for most  households being around the $61,662 mark, with only 5% of people below the poverty line.  The racial makeup of Green was 97% white.  We had very few minorities.  Many of the students drove nicer cars than the teachers.  Abercrombie or American Eagle were the clothing brands worn by I’d say close to 85% of the school population, with a select few venturing outside the ‘preppy’ box, donning garb from Hot Topic or other not-so- sought- after brands. In middle and high school cliques were a part of the normal social structure at school. We had the jocks, the goths, the computer nerds/gamers, the druggies, and others. I never really belonged to a clique in school, I always just had friends from almost every group. And I liked it that way. I liked not barricading myself to one select group of people, with one select frame of mind.With all my friends from different cliques, I learned something about them, and also took something from each friendship, admiring the differences in their personalities and interests.

My high school

I had a kind of pity for the people at school who limited themselves to one select group of people, never venturing out of their social security blanket, if you will.  I felt like they were so limited in their knowledge, attitudes and opinions of life because, their opinions were mostly those of the clique’s. It was like a walking, adolescent cult. If you didn’t believe in what they believed in, then you couldn’t join. You couldn’t sit at the cool table during lunch time. That’s something I admired about myself during those coming of age years, the fact that I didn’t limit myself to one common belief or attitude toward life in general, but more a cultivated and open minded one, helped to blossom by my having friends of all different backgrounds.

I graduated high school in 2003.  I wasn’t one of those people who tried to hold on to the high school memories and stayed stuck to my high school friends like glue; yes while the memories were fuzzy and warm to think about, I was ready to move on even before I graduated. I was curious to see what else was out there, other ways of life and ideas not similar to my own, or what I had known as ‘normal’. I stayed in touch with a few friends from high school when I started college, but also made new ones. I liked college because I could see the differences in people, their individual style, mannerisms, interests and views on life.  I loved the diversity of college.  It was no more cookie-cutter perfection as I had known in Green but more of a eye opening experience.  There were people with mohawks, red hair, purple hair, facial piercings, tattoos…people from different cultures, which was nice to see, considering close to 100% of Green’s racial makeup was white.  Muslims, Blacks, Asians, even some Europeans shared my classes with me.  Of course, when I tried to explain to my parents that I liked the diversity of college, pointing out the people with piercings and tats, they shook their head and just said, “Stupid, they’re looking for attention.”  My dad never hesitated to add, “And don’t get any crazy ideas.”  But, I guess this was to be expected, with the generation they came from, a little more conservative and set in their ways, as most parents tend to be.  It didn’t help we lived in a very conservative community to begin with.  While Green was a nice area and a relatively safe community, I always felt like the people of the city were so” programmed”  in their opinions.  It seemed like everybody shared a consensus: family, church, PTA meetings and a white picket fence for the dog. It was rare to find someone who was into abstract art, tattoos, indie rock, Go-Go dancing or daring stilettos.  Also rare was to be able to hold a conversation with someone about any of these things.  So when I embarked on my first day of college, needless to say, I basked in the differences of people; my eyes were wide open.