I recently had a conversation with a close friend of mine over Whatsapp. We were discussing how a mutual acquaintance of ours recently got engaged. After much complaining from my end about how too many people that I grew up with seem to be jumping the broom and getting married without a single thought, I sarcastically wrote in a single text: “this girl always reminded me of a vanilla wafer – the same as everybody else with nothing that made her stand out.”
After what felt like a stern talking to in text form from the recipient of the message (she’s one of my closest friends – she’s allowed to do so. She got permission from my mother) and an hour or so of feeling bad for calling someone that, I started to ponder the idea of wafers and whether they could be a metaphor for today’s society hidden in a baked treat.
In the year 2019, we as millennials are living in a world where social media likes determine our popularity, peer pressure runs rampant through our veins, and our sanities are determined by whether you know the right people to get you to the next stage in life. It’s a struggle to figure out who to trust when it seems like everyone in the world is looking out for themselves and not for others.
I started to contemplate about how the world turns and what makes it tick. It took a little bit of time (and two cups of coffee in the process) but it eventually hit me. You know the classic quote from Forrest Gump? “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.” The world is like that box. Instead of chocolates though, I realized that there’s a better way to describe people.
We can break down the world into three different wafers: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
First we got our vanilla wafers, the flavor that is most popular among wafer connoisseurs. This is the group of people that are always liked. They are the ones that feel like they have to give in to the peer pressure and go along with what the rest of the world is repeating without a second thought. They’re the ones that strive so hard to be accepted that they lose themselves and become clones of their “peers.”
Next we got our chocolate wafers, still a well-liked flavor but slightly different. These are the people that have an inkling that they don’t fit in with the rest of the world, and yet they are looking to be the next vanilla wafers. “Wannabes,” if you will. They will wear the same clothes as the vanilla wafers, talk the same as the vanilla wafers, etc. You get my point. Yet they have an awareness tugging at them inwardly that they never will be like everyone else. It’s almost as if they are trying to catch up with the times and slipping through the cracks at the last second.
Last but certainly never the least are the strawberry wafers, the flavor that is least-favored, yet always talked about. I honestly don’t know many people that like this flavor – myself included. This is the person who knows that they will never be like anyone else. He or she is aware of their quirks and instead of berating themselves for who they are, they view themselves as unique. They don’t bend to the pressures of what their age group is saying or doing – they rise above it all to stand out and be their own person.
As I sit and write this, I hope with all of my being that people view me as a strawberry wafer. In my mind, it’s more important to be respected for being just a little bit out of the ordinary than to just copy the trend that will be gone as quick as it showed up on our social media pages. More importantly, I hope that everyone realizes that it’s way better to be the one who stands out than the one who follows. Better to be yourself than to be someone else.
Dr. Seuss says it best: “why fit in when you were born to stand out?”