May 20, 2004  
Volume 98, Issue 01  

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Insert your own unique style here

I shot the sheriff
Maggie Wrobel

Deputy Editor

“People always say that you should be yourself, like yourself is something definite, like a toaster.”
— Claire Danes as Angela Chase on My So-Called Life

Remember the beginning scene of the quirky teen-comedy Ten Things I Hate About You, when all the social groups at the high school are introduced? There are the jocks, the cowboys, the business kids, etc.

That scene is hilarious to watch because of how extreme the depictions of the various groups are: the cowboys have lassos and actual horses, while the business kids sit in a tight circle, typing furiously on their laptops.

The lesson is obvious: social identity is a delicate beast because it is something that can quickly turn you into a caricature.

Carving out your identity is not an activity that comes with instructions and I often wonder if things would have been easier for me growing up if I’d been part of a defined social group.

As an immigrant who has moved seven times in her life, I know that I’ve had more than my share of chances to “start over” and reinvent myself.

I never really used those chances, though. I always did whatever I felt like doing at the time, with little thought of social consequences. Thus, I grew up playing basketball, wearing my dad’s old jeans to school and listening to Green Day. This mishmash of styles may make me sound somewhat cool now, but back then it was the kiss of death to be indefinable and, more importantly, uncategorizable.

I remember in grade nine, when I hung out with the hippies and the stoners, wishing I could break through the social wall and hang out with the jocks. Depression set in quickly after that and I switched high schools.

I continued along that path of not quite fitting in anywhere all through high school and into university (luckily finding some fellow uncategorizable best friends along the way).
Recently, my journey through the land of non-identity has made me think of everyone’s favourite pop-punk sweetheart from Napanee.

It’s not news that everyone has something to say about Avril and that most of it is negative. “She’s a fake punk! A former country singer who once sang onstage with Shania! She doesn’t even skateboard! The nerve!”

The truth is that sometimes I’m a little bit jealous of Avril and her neatly cut-out identity. After all, the girl has a uniform, a pre-planned schedule and wacky Internet websites named after her (I admit that “Viva la Maggievolution” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Viva l’Avrilution” and I have to live with that fact).

But reflecting on it now that I’m finally here at the tail end of my time at university, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade my undefined personal style for Avril’s pre-programmed persona.

I’ve always liked Hilary Duff better anyway.



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