A group of friends joins together at lunch to  become their own community.
A group of friends joins together at lunch to become their own community.

Everyone struggles to fit in

People want to feel accepted, to feel wanted, and to feel like they are part of something bigger than them.

However, the reality is much more complicated than that.

By the time middle school is over, most people will feel neglected in a group or situation. Everyone just wants to feel accepted.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains the basics of human needs and the forces we are driven by.

Maslow makes clear what is most important from the top of the pyramid to the bottom. At the top, there is self-actualization, or realizing one’s value. Fundamentally, it is essential to the human being to know their value and feel that they are worth something.

In the middle lies self-esteem, belonging, and safety. These needs demonstrate that self-perception will determine how one will act towards others. For instance, if a person is egotistical, they may be less friendly towards others because they think they are above other people.

The middle section also emphasizes that people feel safer in a group setting. This feeling of comfort has originated from prehistoric humans traveling in groups for protection.

At the bottom belongs psychology, which is the individual’s drives and motives behind their actions. Our psychology is the fight for survival. It predicts how an individual will act in a situation.

Maslow’s hierarchy is understandable in many ways, but it ceases to realize that life is unpredictable. People themselves are unpredictable, and life would not be the same without other people.

During their childhood, some may have believed they knew exactly what they wanted to be once they grew up. However, as time goes on, the plan tends to change as they learn more about themselves and their strengths and weaknesses.

“I wanted to be an astronaut when I was younger, but I became more passionate about video games and realized I wanted to get into video game designing,” said Fernando Cordoba, a senior.

Many others have the same experience as Cordoba. Typically kids want to be professional sports players or ballerinas when they are older. Oddly enough, both of these professions require working with others. Sports players are part of a team and ballerinas perform with others unless they have a solo.  

According to Pamela B. Rutledge, the Director of the Media Psychology Research Center, the one absolute similarity between all humans is to find a connection. All humans are naturally social creatures, and a connection is our motivation and goal in life. The way people behave in groups or social situations is simply a survival instinct. People present themselves in a way that makes them look better or more desirable to others.

Communities present a space for people to be part of something more significant. Along with that, it provides a feeling of safety.

When a community or group works like a well-oiled machine, it leads to trust. Excellent collaboration and working as a team builds the needed trust to feel accepted into a circle.

Our emotions and personal identity are linked to a validation that we receive from others. This validation leads us to be different from how we would normally act.

“Every single day I was bullied because people thought they were better than me,” said Payton Vogt, a junior. “I feel like it’s partly me though because I always put myself down.”

Many people fall into the same trap as Vogt, not believing in themselves.

“In class, I used to get along with this group I was in, but for some reason one day they were having a really bad day and started taking it out on me. I’m just waiting for the day when we move seats,” a junior girl said. “I feel like I just want to cry sometimes and then other times I want to crawl into a little hole and be by myself.”

Being brushed aside by close friends lowers one’s self-esteem. In turn, this makes the person think as if they did something wrong, thus making them doubt themselves. For many students and people in general, having a community or group to be a part of makes a difference.

“I remember when I was in middle school, a lot of people were not accepting, but I know there will always be bullies,” said Alex Nyholm-Goncalves, a sophomore.

Understanding that there is not always a solution to a problem is key to learning more about oneself and the people around. Similar to school subjects like science, there is not always a clear answer. Unlike most, Nyholm-Goncalves can take a step back from what is going on in their life and realize that there will always be people in the world wanting to put others down.

“We’re social creatures, and we want to have social connections with others, but I had no one to hang out with. I came to the school later, so I did not feel that loved or respected,” said Hunter Hawkes, a senior.

Moving schools is a difficult feat for many, considering that students have already made friends. 

Self-love is necessary for having the confidence to go through life. In order to achieve self-love, people have to be comfortable in their own skin. 

Unfortunately, in today’s society, bullying has become an everyday struggle for some people. These people live every day feeling hated and invisible as nobody seems to care. They walk alone and stay silent about what is going on because they do not want to seem weak. These people do not want to be another battleground of hatred.

“It was their facial expressions and body language. I didn’t feel like I was wanted. It’s just their opinion, it’s not me,” said Natache Adan, a freshman.

Verbal and physical abuse such as rumors, gossip, or any unwanted touching are difficult subjects for people to discuss. Schools and society always send the message to speak up and make voices heard. Nonetheless, it is much easier for a person to advocate something when they are not the recipient of the problem.  

When a school or the world is causing problems, it is important to have supportive friends and family. Close friends can make be one’s support system. However, self-happiness is most important. 

Acceptance comes in many different forms, so do people. People should be acknowledged for who they are. If a person wishes to be different, so be it. It is not worth changing for other people.

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are,” said Nirvana guitarist and frontman Kurt Cobain.

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