When my daughter was at high school, one of the teachers at the school kept giving her yard duty. The reason behind this was that she wouldn’t tuck in her shirt. The uniform policy for the school stressed that she had to wear a blue shirt. We didn’t go to the expensive uniform shop to buy shirts. Instead, we purchased shirts that were within our budget. They were fashionable shirts at the time. It was a feminine cut shirt rather than the baggy boy cut school shirts. They weren’t designed to be tucked in.
Week after week, this teacher would pull my daughter aside and tell her to tuck her shirt in. She chose to do the yard duty rather than to comply.
After a while, of course, she got sick of it. It just kept ongoing. I told her that next time, ask him to give me a call. It wasn’t too long before the call came. He told me how well-presented my daughter always was, but she wouldn’t tuck in her shirt. Then he tried this argument on me. “I want her to fit in and do what everyone else is doing.”
Wasn’t that a beautiful thing to say to me?
I am all about community and the importance of working together. However, there is this thing about doing what everyone else is doing. Being a “team player.” Well, guess what? Doing what everyone else is doing for the sake of it is not being a “team player.”
To build a strong community, we need to embrace diversity. We need to appreciate the differences. The differences in thought, ideology, beliefs, ability, appearance is all vital. When we start doing the same as everyone else, just to comply, then we are in big trouble. We have lost the beauty and power of community. We lose our individuality and the essential ingredients for growth and development. We have given our power over to someone else.
I don’t believe in being a “team player” unless that means being myself: Bringing all of my strengths and abilities to the table. Being able to speak my mind and being respected for who I am. I want the rest of the team to do the same. Speak out if you disagree. Have your say. Do things your way. That is what it is to be in community.
As for the teacher, he gave me the opportunity I was waiting for. My response was, “So, what you are saying is, if all of my daughter’s friends are taking drugs, she should too so that she fits in?” It was the last we heard from that teacher. From this point on, he left my daughter alone to be herself with a new sense of respect.