I am writing this while flying through the air. No, I haven’t developed a Superman-like ability to fly (I wish); I am on a plane. In two and a half hours, my parents and I will land in Malaga, Spain. When you read this, I will probably be relaxing by the pool, reading a book or talking to my family. I love reading and never have enough time to do it just for pleasure, but talking to my family is a bit more complicated. I love them, but they can put a lot of pressure on me. They constantly want me to be “better,” though I don’t even know what that means. Which leads me to the topic I really to talk about, which is judgment.

We’re taught from a really young age to be judgmental. We judge one another according to race, religion, class, sex, gender, and sexuality, among thousands of other big and small things. I think every single one of us has probably, at some point or other, been the victim of prejudice (literally, pre-judging), and at another point or other, the perpetrator.

I’m guilty of often judging people on appearances before getting to know them. I should know better, because I have been on the receiving end of a lot of prejudice. I’ve been treated less seriously because of my gender. I have been called “fake” because I know more about Superman than 90 percent of the male population does. I have been called names because of my race. I have been discriminated against by teachers who view me as less-than because I’m half-black.

I have friends who aren’t open about their sexuality because they are worried about the reactions they will get from their friends and families. I know more than one person who has been punished (or even kicked out of the house) because they dared question their family’s religion.

It’s ridiculous how many teenagers are alone and sad, having panic attacks in their bedrooms while the rest of the world passes by, because we live in a society where being ourselves just isn’t good enough. ♦