On one of my most recent visits to the iTunes website, I was surprised to see that every country listed had the same No. 1 song: Lady Gaga's latest single, "Born This Way."
The song, which speaks about loving oneself for who he or she truly is because "baby you were born this way," has become an overnight phenomenon.
Some may debate that the song is popular because it is catchy or because maybe it sounds a bit Madonna-esque or simply because anything Lady Gaga does is pure genius.
Perhaps the latter is true, but I beg to differ on the other accounts. I think this song has touched the surface of an issue that not many artists talk, or rather, sing about.
"Born This Way," indirectly addresses issues of race, sexuality and gender identification.
Gaga's message is unique in that she doesn't focus on the naysayers and those that are full of hate and ignorance towards people who are "different."
Gaga's song promotes self-love and confidence, which I find extremely refreshing and highly applicable. All too often we're overloaded with advice about how to deal with people who are hateful toward others.
I think the best way to deal with negative, hateful people (who are most likely extremely insecure themselves) is by promoting love.
I don't mean to get all wishy-washy, but I really think that the best armor against negativity is love.
Loving yourself in the deepest sense means loving who you are at your core. It's loving your forgetfulness or the gap in your teeth.
It's loving your heritage or the little belly fat on your stomach. It's about loving your pale skin or high-pitched laugh.
I remember one time I was having dinner with my mom and aunt at an Italian restaurant somewhere in the middle of New Jersey.
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I remember being extremely embarrassed when my mom began laughing so hard at something that she began to snort uncontrollably.
I kept elbowing her to make her stop, looking around cautiously to make sure no one was watching us.
Dramatically I turned to my mom and said, "Can you stop, please?" My aunt proceeded to give me a look of grave concern. "Let her laugh, for Christ's sake. What do you care?" she said.
That was when the real embarrassment set in. I had tried to stifle my mom's expression of happiness, and for what? So that a bunch of strangers wouldn't judge her?
Now, some of you might be wondering how I can equate people who face discrimination on a daily basis to my mom being hurt that I was embarrassed by her laughter.
I'm not trying to equate the two at all.
The point I'm trying to make isn't about rating the levels of hardships people face, rather our need to re-evaluate what it is that we're ashamed of and why we allow ourselves to feel shame for the things and people that we love.
I think a lot of negative energy comes from the frustration of not knowing how to allocate certain emotions.
If only we could learn to appreciate ourselves more. We'd gain invaluable insight into who we are, what we want and what we have to offer others.
Inevitably, we could appreciate and understand others better. Consequently, I think people, in general, would be a lot happier.
I think students on this campus have grown uncomfortable with the idea of "the individual."
We're all split up into groups. Whether they be sororities and fraternities or the sections of D-Hall, we separate ourselves into cliques.
Everyone is so preoccupied with fitting into a group that they lose an appreciation for what they could bring to the group.
For instance, the other night I was at an after-Cellar apartment party with two of my friends.
We knew most of the people who lived in the apartment, but to say that we ran in the same social circles as the residents would be a bit of an exaggeration.
Most of the people there belonged to a Greek organization and seemed to know each other fairly well.
My friends and I felt a bit silly being there, but seeing as we had been invited, we figured, why not stay and mingle a bit?
One of my friends suggested we move to the back room and make some new friends.
I glanced in the back and frowned at my friend. "What if they're jerks?" I asked.
"Then the joke's on them. What do we care? We're here to social-network," he said with a grin. And with that, we ventured into the back room.
It took about five milliseconds for us to realize that our social networking session would be incredibly short.
Our first clue was when my one friend said, "What's up, guys?" and no one said anything back.
Our second clue was as soon as the three of us sat down on the couch, everyone, I kid you not, exchanged glances, stood up and left the room.
Luckily my friends and I have good senses of humor. As a result we burst out laughing and followed them right back into the front room.
And you know what the best part is? I still don't care. Not one bit.
That's the great thing about being comfortable with yourself and enjoying the company of people that make you happy.
Nothing else really matters. Not even assholes with whales on their pants.
If they didn't want to meet me because of x, y, z, then that just isn't my problem.
As my mom and maybe even Lady Gaga would say, it's their loss.
On a relevant side note: Mom, I love your laugh. More people should laugh as genuinely as you do.
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