In a day and age where it is socially acceptable to get away with almost anything, there are still a majority of us who face the real life dilemma of “fitting in” and conforming to the norms of society. Where did the concept of fitting in stem from and why is it so important for us to get some form of validity or acceptance by others for our actions? Most people take pride in being liked and accepted and looked up to and are even willing to change themselves in order to satisfy those around them.
This starts at a very young age, from the time we are exposed to others of our own age very often in our early school days. These days were considered the golden years of life where everything was carefree and laid back. Once we reached our teenage years however things got a little more serious. Everyone had formed their own cliques or circles of friends and spent a wide majority of their time with these people. Watching closely but from a distance it became apparent that not everyone was happy or perfectly content with where they were. Fast forward to college and we are still trying to figure out who we are. In a generation that grew up watching High School Musical, Harry Potter as well as every Disney movie ever made that taught us it was okay to not “Stick to the status quo” or for the smartest girl in school to be a fighter, movies like Wonder Woman and most recently Black Panther are breaking cinematic records for defying gender and cultural norms and encouraging the world to move forward.
Yet even after all this we are still living in a society that judges a girl for wearing a skirt that’s too short or a boy is not considered manly enough if he doesn’t have an interest in sports.
Once again this all boils down to perception and opinions. One of the major reasons we care so much is for the fear of being judged by others we even forget who we are just to conform to social cues.
Opinions play a vital role in all our lives and it is this reason that most people do what they do. This is what scares everyone to conform to society. The silent whispers, the judgmental stares, the news that travels behind our backs indirectly play a major part in shaping most of us. But what if we lived in an alternate reality where such concepts did not matter? This too would be problematic if we cross certain lines. My view is that everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin and do what they do instead of giving those who tell them otherwise a certain level of satisfaction.
On a more personal note it is saddening to see so many posts on the Facebook page “UNMC Confessions” about people who are struggling to fit in and are going through so much but yet find it hard to confide in even their close friends with the fear of being judged. This clearly shows us that not everyone is as happy or content as that which is perceived and thus leads to the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
So the next time we make a sarcastic comment or share an insensitive joke or even have a fight with a close friend we should learn to be mindful that once we say something out loud; an insult, a joke, an endless rant or even an opinion it can never be taken back. Everyone is fighting their own battles that the majority know nothing about which is why the best thing to do is to put on your best face and just share your smile with the world because clearly while drowning in stress, exams, deadlines, FYP’s and finally fallen friendships we could all use a smile.
Written by Aneeqah Macan Markar
Featured image from Pinterest