Strive to be Yourself

The following speech was delivered by Harriet Grimsey, Deputy School Captain 2017, at Strathcona’s Leaders’ Induction Assembly.

After the joys of Christmas had settled for another year, I found myself contemplating yet another New Years Resolution. We’ve probably all made one before, or heard of others making them, and likewise we’ve probably all seen them fail miserably after the first week of January. Regardless, we try again and again each New Year to recreate ourselves through the ‘new year, new me’ mentality.

However, over time I’ve started to believe that this concept of ‘New Year, new me,’ is a tad ridiculous. Just because the clock has struck midnight and the 16 has clocked over to 17, does not mean I am going to become the new Ghandi or Mother Teresa of our generation (unfortunately).

Now of course, as we enter another school year, it is important for each of us to consider who we want to be in 2017 within and outside the Strathcona community. As pop singer, Ke$ha, once said, “we are who we are”. To me, this means that deep down you are your own unique person, which you cannot change.

However, ‘New year, new me’ has turned into an annual phase where people try to transform their identity, getting further and further away from their true self, and what makes them an individual. We end up hiding ourselves from others so we can become the person society wants us to be, so that we conform to the norm. This year, I encourage everyone to not let this happen to you. Don’t strive to change yourself, strive to be yourself.

It has been scientifically proven that the difference between my DNA and any one of your DNA is only 0.06%. This 0.06%, although seemingly insignificant, is what makes you a talented musician or sports person, it’s what makes your hair brown, or blonde, or red, it’s what makes you, you. Without this minute fragment of our DNA, who would we be? We would all be identical with nothing to distinguish you from your teachers or the person sitting next to you.

In a population of 7 billion people, there would not be one unique individual. No you, no me, no Beyoncé. Imagine a world without Beyoncé! What a bleak existence that would be. However, this world is becoming our reality as we lose our individuality. We look at the next person and wish we had that body or those eyes or their intellect. We try to conform to the latest trends, changing our appearance and how we behave in certain crowds until we’re all mirror images of one another. I don’t think we should be afraid of being different, I think we should be afraid of being the same as everyone else.

So don’t let your ‘new year, new me’ be about becoming a different person. Don’t wish away your 0.06%, but rather aim to be the full extent of your 0.06%. This means you must endeavour to be true to yourself and who you are, and get rid of this mentality that someone else is better than you and that you should try to be more like them. Remember that no on else in this world, not one person in this population of 7 billion people, is quite like you. In the words of best-selling author, John Mason, “you are born an original. Don’t die a copy.”