We are inundated with images that tell us that we are all supposed to be the same. We’re supposed to have the same goals, likes, dislikes and beliefs. Beauty is rewarded while awkwardness or originality is shunned or taunted. There is a level of perfection within every area of our life that no one can actually achieve. There is no perfect parent. There is no perfect child. There is no perfect wife or husband. There is no perfect boss or employee. We are all flawed in different and yet similar ways. Why do we kill ourselves to live up to these ideals? Because it takes amazing courage to be yourself in this world.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson.
When you stand out as an individual, you invite the fear of all the people who are afraid to be different. People want to fit in and belong. The need to be accepted can be so deep that it will lead people to harm themselves just to fit in and be loved. It can also lead people to fear when someone is the mirror that reflects their difference. What you fear or hate in others is what you fear or hate in yourself. When someone tries to shame another’s individuality, it is because they are suppressing their own. You can’t be different because I can’t be different.
We are each created with some special gift to bring the world. Now, that gift may be something that has been done or is being done by someone else but what you bring to it is your experience. It is only through your eyes that the world can be reimagined. Would we visit the zoo or a safari if all the animals tried to look like and act like the lion? I don’t think so. There would be no point. What if every designer made clothes in black and cut the same way? How full would your closet be? What if every filmmaker kept making the same movie, the same way with the same actors? What if there was only one genre of music and one singer? How fun would life be without variety and the individuals that create based on their own talents and experiences.
Life is about evolution. Inclusion is important and, as humans, we desire love and to be apart of a group. What we don’t realize is that we are not meant to be loved for denying ourselves. We are supposed to show our true self to another human being and be loved for who we are. Some of us mistakenly believe that we are supposed to abandon ourselves to gain love. It’s actually the opposite. If you want true love, you have to embrace yourself fully and to the point that other people have no choice but to accept you as you are. It takes courage to be yourself in this world, but it’s a necessity. Because if you are never yourself in this life then the people who you love have only ever loved a stranger.
Can you start to courageously show people who you really are? Can you face the fear of losing friends? Think about how it would feel to know that you are loved for who you are.
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”- Audre Lorde