It is general knowledge that society sets general standards for every one of us in spite of the fact that we are individuals. I call it the ‘de-individualization’ of humans- a phenomenon that many of us are fast becoming comfortable with because we feel the need to constantly suit the ideal image society wants us to aspire to. We are often told things like ‘Men who cry are weak and should be jeered at’, no wonder there are so many men dying inside and living ‘exclusive’ lives simply because they do not have an environment or outlet to let out their frustrations, express their emotions or be their individual selves. Women are often told ‘Marriage is the ultimate achievement. If you are married with no one to go home to, you have failed even if you are the CEO of the biggest law firm or investment firm. The message we ear is, anything outside society’s standards means we have failed, full stop.
It is not surprising that as humans, we conform to these standards; it is in our nature to desire acceptance, love and assurance at every point in our lives, that reinforce our hopes that we are on the right path. It is the underlying reason we suppress certain attributes albeit good and express others even though they are questionable. We conform because we want to please everyone. It is the reason many women abandon things they are passionate about to pursue a relationship, it is the reason many women refuse to study further, because with a PhD, you’re ‘just a tad too much for any man’.If you are aiming higher than he is, you’re ‘confused about the essence of your creation and your identity as a woman. And as conformists, some of us absorb these rules and even reinforce them in our thoughts.
Conformity, however is just one extreme end of the rope; rebellion is becoming prevalent- the need to deliberately prove society wrong is on the priority lists of those of us on the other end of the spectrum. There is a constant need to aggressively express our ideas, which are contrary to the fictional image society has painted for us.We want to prove a point, we walk in defensive strides, even before any threats are loosely thrown in our direction. We walk into rooms with assumptions of what everyone is thinking; they are society so we assume, before any interaction that they are waiting to pounce on us.
Where is the middle ground? Is there any? Should we all walk around with our hands on the trigger, ready to shoot any attacker or should we sway through life like a leaf on a stream, carried by the waves in any direction the stream flows, but with no direction of its own? We need to find a middle ground, and that middle ground for me is to be myself and in constant pursuit of my happiness. At the end of the day, I am the only one that will have to bear the consequences of my decisions, be it conformity to society’s many standards which I now realize are simply impossible to meet without great sacrifice, or rebellion against society’s standards, which also attract a considerable degree of sacrifice.
As young women and men, we need to assertively, not aggressively own our individuality. If by chance your vision correlates with the commandments of society, thumbs up! You are among the lucky few. However, if your vision isn’t quite what some people in the dark ages dictated it should be, you don’t have to prove it by rebellion. You simply must stay true to who you are! That is the only way you can attain your personal happiness and still have an impact wherever you find yourself. I was on the rebellious side until I started to realize I did not have to prove a point to society through conformity or rebellion. In your honest opinion, which side of the coin are you on?