Swimming across peer-pressure
By Aneesh Chatterjee (my son)
Ah, society. Don’t we all want to be one with it? Don’t we all feel the need to blend in perfectly with everybody else, and become a standing member? Well, nope – not me, at least. The price for social status is too high. Not that I always knew this, though – when I emigrated from India to Canada in 2009, I was blissfully ignorant of the snake pit I was about to jump into. When I got here (by “here”, I mean school), it became evident pretty fast that I wasn’t going to be able to swim smoothly.
Back then, I was the idiot type – you know, the goofy guy with lame jokes, who always screws things up and refuses to admit he’s wrong. Have you ever had that kind of a friend? If so, I apologise on his/her behalf. Anyway, the wonderful teens of Mississauga helped me realise just how annoying I really was.
I suppose this would be the part where a counsellor would say “Don’t give up who you are because of other people!” Well, I either didn’t realise that or was too weak to execute it. Like a coal through hot pressure, I tied up society’s bittersweet personality reviews around me and came out as – well, still a coal, but one that bites (as my teacher, Mr Jennings would put it).
I have to give society credit, though. They turned an annoying, giggling goofball into a moody thundercloud that looks like it just came out of prison. Way to go! (No sarcasm intended. Really.) I guess that’s what different cultures do to you. In fact, even after three years, I’m still an awkward idiot who screws up the smallest of things – and I still grind my head about it, although God knows that’s a stupid thing to do. I’ve learned now, that the little screw-ups won’t mean anything in a week. Although it’s still next to impossible for me to follow it, the rule is – screw people, and screw what they say.
But in a society like this, where I’m a temperamental oddball, I find it surprisingly entertaining to observe just how awkward I can get. And guess what? I love it. I’m never fitting in, and I’m proud of that. Sure, it still annoys the hell out of me, but that’s just because I’m an idiotic teenager who can’t adopt the golden rule of not fitting in. it’ll settle in soon enough – just needs some practice. This society has taught me a lot, has gotten that stupid public goofball personal out of me (no regrets), and I still managed to save myself from becoming another one of the frequent brain-dead droids that I see now and then. So I figured, if I can manage that, I can survive in this jungle, for sure. And survival here is key because, as Drake so informatively put it, “YOLO”.
By Aneesh Chatterjee