Contrast

In deep.

Contrast. Something beautiful, something horrid, something provocative. We see contrast in everything- color, emotions, society, friends, family; everything we percept has contrast whether it be figuratively or literally. Contrast is something that gives what’s more important a meaning, a significance, a title- without contrast we wouldn’t be able to see what’s important. I felt this profound sense of contrast while I was waiting to get picked up from a football game one cold, moonless Friday night. I stood there leaning against the bleak, white wall of a building, crossing my arms close to my chest- indicating I was in no mood to engage in conversation with anyone. Several minutes had passed as I watched hundreds of students leaving the parking lot in their cars, in their parents’ cars, or in their shoes- they were all so eager to leave. One by one, a car filled with students drove past me, each one having one thing in common- having excitement towards something. They drove recklessly and blasted music so loud, it shoved me against the wall with its violent vibrations of bass. Hands and heads dangling out the window, unanimous chatter, and every once in a while a quarrelsome scream of joyful terror or of rhetorical demands. Some would walk past me in a herd, as they closely circulated each other and cackled in echoes of attention. I would only lean there against the wall, with my arms crossed, watching them scramble by- wondering what it was like to leave with a group of friends. I saw this cycle of people driving by and walking by, all of which had the same goal of gaining attention or envy. Some would walk in lines next to each other, hastily leaning forward towards nothing with their heads forcibly perked up to the demands of the societal environment. Some would walk with straight backs, puffed out chests, and lifted chins aimed at rivals and showcased for admirers. Some would constantly look about them with paranoia- I couldn’t tell if they were doing this in fear of being watched by someone, or in assurance of being watched by someone- either way, these looked the most stressed. All of these different kinds of herds of people would walk or drive past me, as if I was transparent. This was the best part. I noticed that almost everyone never looked around them, or even bothered to use their peripherals. They were so focused in their unmatched goal for attention and superiority- they never stopped to look who they were being gazed upon by other than their deceptively supportive friends. They would be so enveloped in their own perception, their own image, and would care relentlessly for the approval of their challengers. I saw this pattern and it baffled me- it was so new to me, and it struck me that this was considered normal for people to act this way. It has been years since I’ve actually had a group of friends, and getting the chance to watch others act in their social image within a socially mutual setting was fascinating and horrifying at the same time. I tried to come to a consensus on how they lived these lives that were spoon fed social acceptance- I couldn’t. The idea was so foreign to me, and it seemed so idled to engage in such a group that constantly challenged or pressured you to conform to their ways on a social, emotional, moral, or physical level. This is when I saw that contrast, and it gave me the taste of tin dipped in honey. I haven’t been in a socially controlling circumstance in years, and the last, decaying remnants of memories I recall from it only give me a melancholy feeling in my stomach. It frightens me to know that I had once engaged in such a social group that only influenced, but never counseled. I felt extravagantly grateful that I had been deferred from that lifestyle, because years of that social pressure would have ended me up in a place I would now find perpetual and self-inflicting. This was the sweet taste of this revelation I had that night; that I had resisted the demands of society and have preserved enough of my conceptualization to realize that there is something more meaningful than investing in rhetorical, multiple-party relationships. I then felt curious for a moment- I wondered if it was of any enjoyment to indulge in a social gathering of people you barely know, or have known on the surface for a long time. How self-contradictory, right? I rarely ever go out with friends to have fun. That’s simply because I don’t have a group of friends who I can just call up all at the same time to go hang out. I pondered upon the idea of having a group of friends like that- ones that are only there for social satisfaction. I thought about it and came a rather profound conclusion that convinced me I was perfectly content with spending so much time alone, while still occasionally having a good talk with friends when the situation was appropriate. Because of my “isolation” for say, I’ve retained a monumental amount of my intellect, perception, and ideology- I haven’t been influenced negatively in years because of my discernment in picking my closest friends. I figured that it was better to spend more time alone investing in yourself and improving your character, than to be constantly under pressure by a group of surfaced friends that will only remain in your life for the remainder of high school. I figured it was better to just be a nice, genuine person to everyone and be open to conversation, while still keeping my distance from any possible negative influences that could potentially pollute my morals. I figured that having four close friends that are intellectual, caring, and authentic in their intentions is far better than having a thousand surfaced friends that all want me to be who they want me to be. I figured that thinking connectively is better than thinking spontaneously- because I know that I’ll end up thanking myself later. This was my profound experience of contrast, and how it reminded me that I’ve been doing the right thing all along- keeping my arms crossed to any negative influences.

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