I have always been different. I learned to read and write before I started going to school. By the time I was twelve, I had already read half the children’s library. While other kids were shyly hiding behind their parents, I was always eager to say hello; I used to talk all the time, really. I had interests I wanted to share with others, I wanted them to know me, I suppose. But, the more I did that, the more I was given the impression that they don’t quite understand me, or, to put it differently, they don’t like to understand me. Somewhere about the age of twelve I concluded that they don’t really like me at all, and they think that everything I say and do is because I want attention or proof that I’m better than them. They took me the wrong way and disliked me immediately.
Almost all of them slowly grew up to be the kind of buddies who intentionally whisper you the wrong answer and then laugh at you, so I learned not to ask for their help. Also, I started closing myself; I didn’t want to be exposed to people who would think me stupid and laugh at me, just because I’m not the same as them. Finding their behavior gross and realizing that, actually, I don’t like them either, I started liking being different. I loved my weird taste in food and I was glad about my organized studying and I was proud of my reading habits. I was generally proud of myself for sticking out as different from people I don’t like. By the time I got to high school, I knew what I was worth.
It has been four years since then; during those four years, I’ve seen all kinds of people and all kinds of social laws, groups and stereotypes. Observing brought me another conclusion, even worse than the previous: everyone wants to be like everyone else.
Yes, they all want to be special, but they want to be special in the usual, previously determined, socially praised way, the common way. So they’re doing their best to fulfill the conditions.
I see people trying too hard to fit in, to fit into a group they don’t even feel comfortable in, just so they would be a part of something. I see people faking emotions and opinions every day, just because they think it’s cool to say something like that. I see people desperately trying to be liked by everyone, not wanting to stand in the way of majority, avoiding its criticism at all costs. But, in the good words of Elbert Hubbard, the only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing. And that’s what we’re facing now: a population of young people – of clever, funny, creative people, people who can think and make truths of their own, people with potential – becoming faceless drones interested in nothing else except their social statuses. Which I think to be a ridiculous waste.
I don’t understand – what is it that you’re so afraid of? Why are you so desperately holding on to the usual standard if it doesn’t fit you, if it’s hurting you, giving you itches and allergies? Is it because of the safety?
Being a part of a mass does protect you from being laughed at – not always, but mostly, yes, it does. But there’s another kind of safety you don’t have: what’s to stop you from losing yourself? As a part of a mass, you must constantly adapt to changes, because mass is hardly ever permanent. And when making changes that are needed in order to be approved by the mass, you may be making changes that absolutely don’t suit you. You may take stands completely opposite to your actual opinion. Say, you love cheeseburgers, right? But it’s in to be thin, so you can’t eat them. Then it’s suddenly in to eat healthy and you have to hate them. Next thing you know, you can’t decide whether you love them, hate them or have them for lunch. This is laughable when it’s about the burger, but when you find yourself deciding about your education, money, or family, instead of your food, it isn’t funny anymore.
Now imagine that happening to pretty much every characteristic of your personality. If none of them is permanent, then who are you? What is your name? You don’t know your name, because you change it every ten minutes.
Have I ever pretended to be a yes when I’m actually a no? Oh yes. But there’s a difference between occasionally changing small, insignificant things according to social expectations, and changing everything you’ve got, no matter what you might be changing it to. Being a part of a mass may protect you from others’ harsh words, but it also may destroy you by its constant motion. Personality isn’t something that should suffer frequent changes; it needs to be kept stable. And you should take good care of your personality. It’s your only signature in this world.