A while ago I wrote a blog post about the three books that changed my life, and Stargirl, of course, was one of them. I read this book every year when school starts because when I was in 5th grade my teacher read it to all of us as a helpful reminder of the importance of being yourself. After finishing it for the 8th time, I am still amazed by Jerry Spinelli and the wonderful story he tells.
In a world where everything has a fake sort of hue to it, where things are photo shopped and filtered and everyone and their dog is being accused of in-authenticity, the message of being who you are has never been more important. Stargirl is all about nonconformity, and the dangers of blindly following a pack and loosing yourself in the process. Its about how no one will ever be satisfied with the decisions you make, and how therefore in the end it doesn't matter what they think, it only matters what you think. Its about being kind, and caring, and compassionate.
Every year the book reveals something new to me, and the resounding message I took away from it this year was one about hypocrisy and the evil it brings. Stargirl is the least hypocritical person known to man. She has found herself, and she sticks by her morals and beliefs, no matter what happens. Its an extremely admirable quality to have, one that is often underappreciated. Stargirl, in her quest to be kind to everyone, steps on peoples toes, and crosses lines that people think shouldn't be crossed. She attends a stranger's funeral, cheers for the other team, sings happy birthday to unsuspecting victims in the lunchroom, and despite the whole student body turning their backs on her in an intentionally cruel way, she keeps doing what she knows in her heart to be right. Despite all odds, Stargirl perseveres, because she is happier sticking to a moral system she believes to be true, than sacrificing her authenticity to please a temporary group of people.
It is very unlikely that you or me will ever reach Stargirl's level of self-confidence and awareness, and its unlikely that we will be able to persevere in the face of a thousand judgmental enemies. But her example is something we could all strive for, something we could all seek to emulate in as many areas of our lives to the greatest extent possible. If we all make the commitment to be authentically ourselves, and to not be hypocritical in the morals and messages we claim to stand for, I think we'd be one step closer to making the world a better place. Its a scary jump to make, but one that will be worth it, and while Stargirl presents many life lessons, its one resounding theme always comes out loud and clear: Being yourself is the best thing you can do.
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