For a while, I’ve had it in mind to write a post about just being yourself. In an environment of sweeping mass culture, it is increasingly difficult to even ‘know’ yourself, let alone ‘be’ yourself. We are constantly being told what to think, what’s beautiful, how to dress, how to style our hair, how to decorate our homes, etc. and what we end up with is essentially a world full of sameness. Because we want to fit in, our individual beauty, talents, and creativity often get hidden away and denied because they don’t ‘fit’ into the cookie cutter world of accepted conformity. We end up feeling inadequate because we don’t measure up to the status quo. Authenticity and being comfortable in your own skin, however, is the very best sort of style. Do what you do best, and you will add value to a world that desperately needs it. Embrace what makes you different than everyone else on the planet!
This is a rather abstract post, but I’ve compiled a few examples of this conformity “theme” where others have said it best to illustrate my thoughts on the matter. But first, a short personal story of triumph over conformity…
I’ve had thick, unruly, frizzy, curly hair most of my life. I’ve kept it pulled it back, tied it up, pinned it down, wanted to pull it out, wished I had straight hair, etc… I’ve been so frustrated at times by the fact that my hair had a mind of its own, until, I cut it and let it just let it do its thing! I’ve learned to accept (and maybe even love) my big wild hair and I have set it free. It’s still unruly, but I’ve come to realize that’s what makes it unique. I honestly feel more comfortable in my own skin, because I’ve stopped trying to change and control a fundamental part of what makes me, well, ME!
This lesson about hair of course is a trivial example, but it has taught me that it’s quite freeing to just let things ‘be’ sometimes. It’s a lesson I intend to apply to lots of areas of my life.
Jim Morrison said, “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
So, you there…Pay attention to what seeks to cage you in. Escape its bonds, go run wild, and let your freak flag fly!
“The worst is not death but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous. The language of society is conformity; the language of the creative individual is freedom. Life will continue to be a hell as long as people who make up the world shut their eyes to reality.” -Henry Miller
The Poet Dreams of the Classroom by Mary Oliver
I stood up in class
And I said aloud:
Why is algebra important?
Sit down, he said.
Then I dreamed
I stood up
And I said:
Teacher, I’m weary of the turkeys
That we have to draw every fall.
May I draw a fox instead?
Sit down, he said.
Then I dreamed
I stood up once more and said:
My heart is falling asleep
And it wants to wake up.
It needs to be outside.
Sit down, he said.”
“Get out your measuring cups and we’ll play a new game
Come to the front of the class and we’ll measure your brain
We’ll give you a complex and we’ll give it a name….
….Put your backpack on your shoulder
Be the good little soldier
It’s no different when you’re older
That’s all for questions now
The case is closed!”