In society today, the term outcast applies to anyone who does not want to go with the mainstream culture. An outcast is technically someone who is cast out from society. Sometimes an outcast is purposefully an outcast by habits and choices. Other times an outcast can be someone who does not have a choice in the matter, such as racial out-casting. The individual has no choice over their skin color, yet this is an attribute that can have an individual set aside form the rest of society.

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Some people are willing to accept the label “outcast” because they are proud to break the norms and would not want to be considered mainstream. For these types of people, the term “outcast” is a compliment. These are the types of people that do not want to be a part of mainstream society, for instance, someone who refuses to wear shoes. This type of person will be an outcast because of this intentional choice to go against the grain of society. There are people who do things like not standing up for the flag during the national anthem. Whether or not this choice was a moral one, the behavior is one that will get anyone listed as an outcast. It is not possible to deviate from social norms and expect to be accepted by those norms.

However, in the case of non-choice oriented outcast status, such as being outcast because of one’s skin color, the term outcast is not a compliment. The term is a derogatory term that means that one is not accepted because of what one looks like, and not because of how one acts and behaves. If one makes the choice to be an outcast, and purposefully elects to be not part of society, then it does not hurt that person to be an outcast. But for someone who wants to be a part of society, and cannot be a part of society because of something that is not their choice, then the term outcast is a painful term. Being an unintentional outcast is a harsh reality to deal with. It makes the individual question whether there is any good in human nature. The character of someone who is forced to be an outcast is that of one who is oppressed.

In my experience, as a black female, I have felt like an outcast when I would read teenage magazines. All of the models were skinny white girls with blond or almost blond hair. I felt like I was pretty much the opposite of what the ideal look was for my generation. I recall that the feeling made me feel like I was helpless to do anything about it. I did not accept the label of outcast, however, and somehow, I found that my style was actually something that the skinny white girls admired. What a twist! Therefore, someone who accepts the term outcast (and does not choose to purposefully be an outcast) is someone who is unconfident in their originality.

Other people are not harsh for deeming others as outcasts; since society is made of conformity, it is difficult to accept differences. The main thing to learn is that our differences can actually be strengths. Outcasts can actually be main players in society. The harshness in judging others is just a fact of social life; it all depends on how the individual reacts to that judgment that establishes the character of the person. It is sometimes a choice to become an outcast, and sometimes it is not a choice. Regardless, the critical thing for individual character is to be confident in one’s originality.